To a Galah in Leeds Castle


You’ve changed your view I see. The road
you look down now bore Eleanor away
along her last slow going. Here your days
pass green and Tudor-splendoured. Though the land
lies smiling, still and lily-moated now
the walls that shield your elm-treed aviary stand
embrasured, old as conquerings and shade
a place in history bloody as a blade
and deadly as a hand.

I saw some relatives of yours
last January – heat and silo time.
They waited for the passing wheat trucks – lined
along the Cootamundra road. Remember where
the corrugations shake the wheat-grains down
like manna over tail-gates. Easy pickings there
last harvest. Nothing changes summer there, the haze
still sets the fence-posts dancing and the shade
lies ragged under Red-gums. And remember – well
it may have slipped your mind. It’s thirty years
the gardener said and told me that you’d be
the best fed bird in Kent. With feed-trays near
who needs to scratch beside a road? But here
you must have sunless patches and to me
there’s something else – that term the gardener used,
that sounded like a sentence – thirty years.

I’ll drive that way again next year,
but early in the day, before the bars
of She-oak shadows fall across the tar
like rungs in ladders and those friends of yours
start taking over fence posts or begin
to populate the gate-rails. Hours before
mirages flood the gullies and the sun
has bleached the standing stubble to the dun
and putty-coloured shades of midday. Well away
before the combines trundle by like slow
tin-dinosaurs in grain-scapes and the loads
arrive at sidings where the wheat-dust blows
in pennants from the silos. If I see
your distant cousins scratching by the road
I’ll think of well-filled feed-trays, years and elms
and wonder, briefly, where you’d rather be.

1 thought on “To a Galah in Leeds Castle

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