Patagonian performance

Silent sentinel of a desert scrape
Waits patiently for a feeding mate.
All dressed up and somewhere to go,
Sartorially suited for ice and snow.
Waxed feather coat proof against storm,
A black and white etching of streamlined form.
Guard of chicks and their genetic future
From the predation of hungry skua.

Replete mate returns, confirms mutual bond.
Greedy chicks clamour beneath sparse frond.
Relieved he waddles through packed pecking peers,
Seeking the sea as the desert sun sears.
Interminable shuffle without a stop,
Suicidally seaward off rocky outcrop.
Atlantic accepts and lucidly cloaks:
Aeonic magician a change invokes.

Flying through the water, wings all awhirr
Accelerating, lost in a momentary blur.
Twist turn tumble, apt acrobatics
Endless motion: piscatorial tactics
While pressing your prey you gorge to the shore
Then rest, return: Aquatic Aviator.

John Burr
St Peter's Church, Nottingham
Last revised 4th October 1998