By Christ, he could bore me for Purgatory. He was small
didn’t prepossess. So he tried to impress. Dead men,
that the bird in his hand shat on his sleeve,
never mind the two worth less in the bush. Tedious.
Going out was worst. He’d stand at our gate, look, then leap;
scour the hedgerows for a shy mouse, the fields
for a sly fox, the sky for one particular swallow
that couldn’t make a summer. The Jackdaw according to
envied the eagle Donkeys, would, on the whole, prefer to be
On one appalling evening stroll, we passed an old hare
snoozing in a ditch – he stopped and made a note -
and then, about a mile further on, a tortoise, somebody’s pet,
creeping, slow as a marrige, up the road. Slow
What race? What sour grapes? What silk purse,
sow’s ear, dog in a manger, what big fish? Some days
I could barely keep awake as the story droned on
towards the moral of itself. Action, Mrs A., speaks louder
was diabolical. I gave him a fable one night
about a little cock that wouldn’t crow, a razor-sharp axe
with a heart blacker than the pot that called the kettle.
That shut him up. I laughed last, longest.
Carol Ann Duffy