Hadeda Ibises at Morningside

Hadeda Ibises at Morningside

Ugliest of birds, the hadeda ibis:
You who screech such inconsiderate greetings
Beneath my soft-sleeping window;
You who whirr your engines, increase their throttle,
And take off just as soon as ground control
Has given the signal to go

Make for the park where you put down
To refuel. Your megaphonic haa-dee-daa calls
Fall silent as steely bills slowly worm
The night-damp earth for hidden fruits
That didn’t know of your coming round
Dressed in olive-grey company uniform.

Next you shriek off to some canopy of green
So serene until your screeching engines splutter
And you make a panic landing
With only one engine to spare. Sometimes you miss port
And have to use frantic wing-flap to regain
Height and bough that provide such easy roosting.

There you dream of your prehistoric roots,
O sacred one, you who roamed the ancient
Dark mysterious Nile, as did the crocodile
When that great stream rolled in fulsome flood.
Who then am I to question your standing,
Or portray you as something vile?

If your line were to cease you’d surely be missed
-As the flightless dodo and solitaire are mourned-
Iridescent bird of the narrow-boned scalp.
Happily for now you’ll return each morning
To waken me from distant dreams,
While the parkland peacocks preen themselves and cry ‘Help!’

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