A Poem by Ali Merrifield

THE PENGUIN CIRCUS
By Mezza

Roll up, Roll up! the waves seem to say
As they schlurp and schlump into the bay.
Sifting sand on the top of the shore,
Pulling it back to the ocean floor.

A magnetic force, as strong as the moon,
Breathing in and out to natures tune.
Then as the next full moon crawls high
Things start to change under the sky.

At Boulders Beach, ripples appear
As the penguins come from far and near;
All dressed up, dazzling and dapper,
Feet a-flopping, wings a-flapper.

For Simon’s Circus has come to town:
Contortionists, musicians, dancers, clowns.
From 24 isles, Namibia to Algoa Bay,
The black and white troop come to play.

Mum and dad penguins gather to bring
Fluffy young ones under their wing,
To see the acts, to marvel in awe,
All clapping and crying, wanting more.

Chicks ready to fledge when winter comes,
Out to sea to fill their tums
As they cant fish if they cant get wet,
When their new feathers aren’t waterproof yet.

But what a cacophony, all in the wrong key,
No wonder they say penguins sound like a donkey.
(Which is how they got their Jackass name,
Even though they’re from Africa, all the same).

The only penguin species here that’s landed:
Sphensicus Demersus, black-footed, banded.
A dying breed at that, don’t you know,
Which is why we must get on with the show.

The ringmaster appears, a ring of spots
Unique to his tummy; not mere polka-dots.
A magic note to his penguin kind,
A fingerprint, a secret sign.

And so starts the show, the crowd is quiet
Until the seagulls take flight, causing a riot.
But everyone’s eyes are on the beach
For the performance just beyond their reach.

The dancers waddle in perfect time
Up the rock in a winding line.
Till silhouetted against the sky
They arch their back, as if to fly!

They tap their feet, front and side,
Their hips swaying like the changing tide.
Turning round to shake a tail,
Wings spread, as if to set sail.

Before each act they nervously laugh
And nibble and peck at their other half.
Cleaning feathers, just to be sure
They look their best for the circus tour.

Then Mr & Mrs Penguin cannon ball,
Shes got the bigger beak, hes more tall.
Stretching, preparing to dive into the blue,
In the air, then hidden from view.

Till a graceful display of underwater dance
Puts all who watch in a hypnotic trance.
The speed of their moves, like a bullet they go,
Their black and white shading keeping them safe in the flow

From sharks and seals who look up to the light
And only see a glistening tummy of white,
While all you see from above is black,
The dark water, hiding their shiny back.

Now the illusionist who comes on next,
Disappearing chicks from out of their nest!
Then they pop up again, with either mum or dad,
Back at the creche not so bad..

He makes pilchards fly out of his hat,
Then he turns a rock-dassie into a cat!
He looks at the oil tanker out at sea
Till it becomes a floating great green tree.

Hidden away behind the rocks
Little children stand in wet socks,
Candy-striped pyjamas, toys in hand,
They sway in time to the penguin band.

Waiters suited in black and white
Wobble up to see if they might
Like some seaweed candyfloss, green and pink,
Or some pilchard smoothies, perhaps to drink?

But that’s before the opera starts
So loud its heard by deep water sharks;
A chorus of singers, their necks held high,
The conductor winks as he catches your eye

Beside them a display of beauty and grace,
Two penguins nee statues held in place
By invisible lines, they don’t move a mite,
Still as stones, enough to give you a fright.

One of a kind in Africa
These penguins celebrate every tour
They have together, a family now
That must keep growing not shrinking somehow.

The young ones will surely return next year,
Finding their way back to friends right here.
Per chance to join the circus themselves,
As the spirit of magic into you delves

Now to keep the magic alive
So the Jackass penguin cal always thrive
At Boulders Beach, with waters blue

 

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