The Christmas Card

I gave a card to my old friend.
‘Merry Christmas’, I said.
‘This is for me? Oh! Thank you.’
He opened it and read
‘Arnold – Happy Christmas –
Love from Rob and Lyn.’
He showed it to a lady
Waiting nearby, frail and thin.
He read the card again to her,
Inordinately pleased.
She said ‘Well that is very nice
But I’m waiting to go to the clinic’
Arnold read the card again,
Aloud, then, puzzled, asked
‘This Arnold – Happy Christmas?
Arnold? Is that you?’
I told him ‘You are Arnold.’
He nodded. ‘Quite correct.’
We went together into the
Residents’ Sitting Room
And sang carols loudly and lustily
For all the slumbering ladies…

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Canoeing to Cormorants

Stark silhouettes along the shore,
With medieval heraldry they crown the groyne-end posts:
On a field parted per pale azure and argent
A cormorant noir, wings outspread.
Dark solitary ghosts on island posts,
Or blown garments drying in a seaside breeze,
Motionless except for wary turning head,
Their hungry eyes pinpointing fish,
Alert for danger from the shore or skies.

Then, of a sudden, the startled, startling leap
Plunging headlong from safe perch;
The frantic flapping wings above the waiting waters
Till, in the nick of time, the laboured,
ground-effect, flat westward flight,
A foot over the sea’s clutch,
Then soaring at the hidden runway’s end;
A black Concorde curving up and off
To seek another vantage post
And pose again to feast
Another camera’s eye
Or poet’s pen.

Littlehampton
August 1997