Almost as content
in tended gardens and hedgerows
as amongst their favourite homely oaks,
hard-shelled stags wake
discarding worn duvets.
On warm, rich evenings,
the antler-jawed males
venture from protective shrubbery
into the open,
seeking Miss Right.
A quest worth any number of duels,
tough mandibles bashing together,
locked in combat with other eager suitors.
Yet victory celebrations are short;
barely opportunity to enjoy a round of sap
before setting off –
time does not dally.
Days cool; fair ladies ensure
the new generation
lie protected in suitable nurseries.
All checks complete, they
and their weary knights
make ready for the ultimate rest.
Plump larvae hatch,
feasting on the lifeless wood
their parents chose to house them;
pinning badges of excellence
to their fleshy bodies
for being such good decomposition helpers.
After six years in training,
a lengthy nap is required,
along with a set of armour,
and for some, their experience sprouts
into antlers of their own:
the cycle begins again.
This poem is part of a project I’m doing to raise money for the RSPB, a UK wildlife conservation and protection charity. If you’d like to help, please share this poem to encourage others to take joy in nature, and if you have the time and means to donate, you can do so here. Let’s help keep our wildlife wild!
[Apologies for how these poems are formatted. I do write them in stanzas, but WordPress rarely decides to keep them, no matter how much I argue with it.]