Having had their summer, swum, fished and plunged
deeply in their chosen waters, these old birds
have woken up to find the world changed,
their choice stretch of pond frozen. And it hurts,
how it hurts these oh-so-debonair gents
as they gamely pretend to get with the times,
to accept the ice, like old colonial lieutenants
returned to cold, foreign homes,
to hard, unyielding soil. One botches a landing,
wings akimbo in a feathery consternation,
then slips off to repair her damaged standing.
Another, less given to self-laceration,
a wizened old cad adjusting his cravat,
ventures forth to assay the dance floor, a snappy new tune,
still sporting, years after the fact,
the regimental colours that made the ladies swoon.
Uncreaking his joints to an unfamiliar rhythm,
his each step’s a stiff, tentative skid and jerk,
a disaster averted. Now only grief and ruin
can come of the ways that once charmed the world.