The Gathering of the Animals
Two families of dogs meet, greet.
It is cliff path, Pembrokeshire, a height above
a small lagoon where, in October,
seal cows will come to birth their pups.
This morning they are cruising back
to nurture and to coax the young.
Around are bird life, cliff life,
chough and martin, gulls out and beyond,
the continuing hum and haunt of insects.
Two couples, brought together by dogs,
camp on an eminence, bring out flasks, foregather.
There are introductions, as if by game show host,
Roger from Essex and Clive from Warwickshire.
(Stella, Janice.) It’s agreeable for a while,
pleasantries are exchanged,
on immigration and the undeserving poor.
There’s talk of websites, marketing the brand.
(The birds and insects offer shrill, bright depth.)
Then the first boast is challenged.
Conversation catapults. “I think you’ll find ..”
and rapidly the morning’s coffee-spread
is frosted over with a pale cast of icing.
No fight, you understand, just competition’s barb
scratching at moist mid-morning air.
In the lagoon, the seal glides back, noses her pup.
The dogs sniff, snort, nearing sleep, nearing apathy,
in the blessed sun.
Robert Nisbet is a Welsh poet and sometime short story writer whose work has been widely published in the UK, in the USA in Main Street Rag, San Pedro River Review, Red River Review and Constellations, and most recently, in two magazines in India.