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This report is taken from PN Review 164, Volume 31 Number 6, July - August 2005.

From a Journal R.F. Langley

14 January 2005
Already I have an image. A duck is turning on water, holding its head high and slightly tilted, looking about. It is a drake scaup, and I saw it on Benacre Broad the day before yesterday. Its head was dark, but definitely cobalt turquoise, precisely that, as a gloss on the dark feathers. The green of a mallard but not so green, more hidden. And wet, because the bird had just surfaced from a dive. It is January, and cold. The water must be numbingly cold. The bird rows itself around, curving across the choppy wavelets. I doubt if it matters that it is a scaup, beyond the fact that I would not have been looking at it so carefully had it been a mallard. Or, perhaps, what I am thinking now gives importance to the precise image of it, though, before I thought it, each detail did not matter so much.

The duck was not in any way close to me. I was a watcher. No matter what the physical distance was between myself and the bird, no matter that I was seeing it through binoculars so that what was there was very clear, the distance between us was absolute and the bird was unreachable. Once noticed, this distance was not only a feature of the scaup on the water, it instantly became the way the water's urgency conveyed itself, made its way past, in detail, sky blue dropped on it, silver ...


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