The Junior Missionaries Picnic in Rowntree Park (1976), by Jayne Shipley

As the crow flies, she is not so far from home

but this might as well be Africa. She is

at the other side of town, a line of geese,

lead them, the Junior Missionaries


from the church to a park gate. They are promised

ice-cream for ‘all their hard work’. In her rucksack,

Primula sandwiches, warm juice and the certificate

for the seven pounds in penny coins.


She is not so far from home. She thinks

of Dad. In his scruffs, pushing shards of cuttlefish

through the cages of the aviary, hanging

strings of millet. Clipping wings.


They pass the lake, where boats bob and boys

use sticks to set them out and pull them in.

They pass the dovecote, a wall of white fans;

they pass benches of women cooing


over babies. In the grasses, the ducks

play mother. She thinks of a crow

flying home, of Dad’s budgies boasting

all the colours of Africa.


Copyright the author and first published by Friends of Rowntree Park 2015.


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