Poor hedgehog in the road squashed by a car,
What good to you was your hibernation?
Had you woken up but one day later
You might have lived to see the summer through.
But alas you were not destined to be
Another Mrs Tiggywinkle,
Hanging out washing till a ripe old age.
In the horse-drawn days of Beatrix,
Hedgehogs had greater life expectancy!
27th April 1971
I love your warmth beside me as I lie
Cocooned in night, the small hours ebbing by,
Leaving me stranded like an errant whale,
High on a wide sandbank of sleeplessness,
A prey to fancies and imaginings.
No devils now, no banshee’s warning cries,
No terrors from a nun-conditioned childhood
Invade my thoughts and force their company,
But spirits of foreboding and of doubt,
Of melancholy and absurdity,
Hobgoblins all of chronic middle age!
You are my talisman against this night,
I stroke your thigh and put them all to flight!
20 January 1990
A robin sat on the roof
And sang his heart out
As we loaded wet concrete
Into the barrow,
Shovel by painful shovel,
And pushed it away
To lay the wall’s foundations.
With two tons shifted
Since the lorry unloaded
And two still to go,
We were in no mood to sing,
But robin sang on
Into the grey afternoon.
Our hearts were lighter
Even if our loads were not.
23 December 1971