There are no knights in shining armour this days. Only small, fragile creatures that flutter by and sip the juicier parts of bushes in bloom. Too fleet for capture, they refuse to rein in their drunken flight and pause only to shed the sad little seeds of a marriage that lasted for but a long, brief moment.
There's no magic left in the night. No cause for celebration, just pangs of regret. Hang down your head, close your wings and look deep into the darkness. For there's no telling what fresh dread the day may bring in this season of clouds and stormy weather. What difference does it make to be hurt again, when old wounds will not heal and each night is a doze of dreams that descends into method and madness?
I wish I had some magic mushrooms. Just a handful of fruiting fungal bodies that glow in the gloom of a damp, cool night and cast a pixie spell through a trail too short for satiation. And mere caps of mycorrhizal exuberance that gleam through the grass as painted frogs hop away in rude splashes. The air is heavy with powdered wings that flutter in your face and the swift flights of hungry nighthawks. And a moment of stillness and silenced torches is all it takes to flood the path with the soft light of a thousand toadstools as they feed on the remains of the day.
I wish I had some magic mushrooms. Explosive puffballs with the power to blow back the clock and recapture every moment lost to the heat of cold words. Pale buttons still too small to reveal their gills but more than round enough to recall the curve of your cheek and the gentle pleasure of firm knobs. And an emerald cup that flares up to release an excess of spores that settle on and devour the rotten traces of a recent past. I wish I had a magic mushroom that could grow to cover our heads and hide two troubled bodies from the glare of green-eyed feelings. And in its shade, we shall slip on a bed of dry tears and fall into each other's arms with not a pinch of hope for return and regret.
A recent half morning's walk through Venus Drive bore no purveyors of forbidden fruit, save a barely visible back of baby bronze. But other hunters were visible along the loop that runs through a patchy forest pierced by clear, sandy streams. The dense undergrowth of this recuperating wood offers an excess of perches for robberflies, which seem to favour the barest of twigs from which to scan their perimeter for airborne prey. Annoyed, or perhaps amused, by our flat-footed steps into its domain, this good-sized individual danced a merry jig over the grass before settling down on a low branch to permit a closer look at its sculptured frame that is almost all hefty flight muscle and manifold minuscule facets.
Dolichopodids share the humped thorax and aerial agility of their larger cousins, and are likewise predators of tiny insects. Loose aggregations of these metallic insects can usually be found resting on sun-lit leaves or the darker side of large tree trunks. Unlike asilids, long-legged flies are usually unfazed by intrusions into their personal space, preferring to taunt by taking flight and landing at the very same spot in the frozen milliseconds between the firing of a flashgun and the closing of a second curtain. This larger, steel grey specimen appears to be a larger version of the small, green species that haunts wayside shrubs all over the island.
The wooden railing that protects the stream from careless children and grown-ups who care less serves as an elevated thoroughfare for ants, termites and other less-organised wayfarers. Though largely unhindered, the route exacts a toll on its users in a scattering of fleet-footed highwaymen. Some, like this boxy little salticid, seek to suck the life out of luckless ants; others merely don myrmician garb to elude the attention of hungry arachnophiles while they pursue their own many-legged meals.
Speed, not stealth, feeds the appetites of tiger beetles – both those that scamper on the trail to snare straggling bodies as well as the smaller beasts that flit about fissured trunks. Rather less concerned with the risks of tangible shadows than their terrestrial kin, the arboreal cicindelids hang head down – the better to lunge at any small creature that lands on the bark with no expectation of a welcoming bite.
But even the beetle is likely to fall prey if it were to take up a position on the tree patrolled by this Kendall's rock gecko. This lizard lacks the adhesive toe pads of its wall-hugging relatives, but has no difficulty scaling the steep slopes of its territory with unseemly speed.
The reptile's vaguely duck-like head is supported by a torso that borders on emaciation. But the hunting ground's happy enough, as the gecko has apparently survived many months in the lower reaches of its home, hiding in plain sight on the dry lichen or darting into deep cracks at the first sign of real trouble. Some members of its family have switched with success from wood to wall, but many of these pretty lizards still shun the dull heights of urban life and cling to the dangers of jungles on the margin of extirpation. Few, if any, of its kind dwell on the other side of the path beyond the stream, and from its vantage point on the fork of the tree, the gecko enjoys a glimpse of the towers that raised this city and shield its citizens from the wild and wonderful creatures of a dwindling country.