Looking for Puffins: South Stack Revisited – A Poem For Our Daughter
by David Selzer
Of course, by the time it’s my turn at the ’scope
the bugger’s turned its back. ‘It is a puffin,’
reassures the RSPB girl – and,
since she’s pretty and young, I believe
that what I see is not one of the teeming,
noisy, noisome, nesting guillemots,
razorbills or gulls. A hat trick: ageism,
sexism, anthropomorphism – plus
being churlish as a bear rather than
valiant as a lion. Intriguing opposites. Grrr!
We came here last when she was five or six.
Decades on, she stands with her lover
at a turn in the steps – both happy,
both blooming with her longed-for future,
and wrestling with the breeze for your camera.
Some gulls have eschewed the crowded cliffs
to nest in the lighthouse’s disused kitchen garden.
We lean on the wall like pig farmers.
There is a dead chick amongst the gooseberries.
A living one stands, yes, surprised, startled but resolute
though even here winds roar like lions or bears.
I hold my breath…1,2,3…for us all.
Note: this piece has been subsequently published in ‘A Jar of Sticklebacks’.