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THE PICNIC

At the end of a dull August afternoon,

two little girls, sisters perhaps, in hijabs,

and a stocky boy of ten or so,

and two women, probably their mother

and grandmother, dressed in woollen hijabs

and abayas, are preparing to picnic.

They lay out a tartan rug, and Tesco bags,

on that part of the Green closed to vehicles:

between the low stone wall – beyond which

is the narrow walk along the sea wall,

and occasional notices of bye laws

strictly prohibiting the feeding of gulls –

and the small standing stones of the eisteddfod

from before the war. The coach parties have gone,

so they must have driven here – where few

pass through on their way to somewhere else –

along the winding, bosky corniche

beside the Straits. They sit on a tartan rug,

and share the foil packets from the bags.

The boy notices a seagull waiting near,

and asks if he may feed it with a crust.

The younger woman gestures as if such things

were bountiful now. He leaves the rug,

and throws the bread to the bird, which gobbles it

cautiously. His sisters ask for crusts

to join the boy. Almost immediately

the grass is covered with a flock of

seemingly frantic wings, a maelstrom

of dark grey and white, a turbulence

of harsh, jeering cries. The children flinch,

then run to their mother who gathers them in.

The grandmother, putting food and drink

to one side, pulls up the tartan blanket,

charges the gulls, waving the rug like a flag.

The flock rises silently – then settles

behind the standing stones… ‘After the battle,’

sing the bards, ‘after the battle, hearths

are desolate, birds gather, a woman keens…’

 

 

 

© Copyright David Selzer
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1 Response
  • Ashen Venema
    September 25, 2020

    A sad lesson for generous children.

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