The intrusion

You take them for bird nests: high in the tree’s flexing fingertips, rough and shatterable against the sky.

You wonder why the children throw fistfuls of shale, dusty lilac showers pattering back to ground through layered branches. You wonder why they stare, caught between delight and horror, when the twigs dip and sway. It is their intent, surely? Or else only the wind.

You wonder why the parents growl, clip ears, hurry home. And as you realise you have never seen a bird nearby, a thin white arm livid with deep scratches snakes over the rim of the bottommost nest.

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