Beside a river, deeply cloaked,
a Ceiba's crooked elbow hosts
profuse cascading mistletoe
which overhangs blackwater flow,
where small fish slip like silver ghosts
and darker things reside below.
Petite, sleek marbled hatchetfish
have trenchant keels and clear, curved fins
for flying over tangled roots
when predators are in pursuit.
Between frenetic courtship spins
they gorge on oily mistletoe fruit.
Red lichen splatters shadowed green.
A kingfisher blends a jungle sheen
within a low-slung palm unseen.
A streamlined head, chic spoiler crest,
brown eyes, white collar, chestnut breast;
he watches from the mezzanine.
The darting hatchetfish play dead.
They float like fallen, blighted leaves.
The wily kingfisher's not deceived,
but dives and spears a cichlid's head.
Around a drifting carmine thread,
the dainty hatchets frisk, reprieved.
The Amazon kingfisher folds his wings.
Then exercising throat and wit,
although his beak is full, he sings;
the tuneful gripe of an unoiled swing.
He gulps the cichlid whole - it fits!
then meditates in sated bliss.
Beneath lush mistletoe, hatchets kiss.
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