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.