Squirrels in The Elms

l.   Exercise Routine
The squirrels are out already; well before us,
Shuffling, dancing, romping, running
In early morning warm-up in time with the wind
And Radio Three pouring its soul through double-glazing,
While another couple go through the motions
Tread-milling their rehab circuit
Of five, four, three, two, one;
Arms akimbo, clap; minds in limbo, wrap
The frozen moment of adrenalin breaking the ice,
Mobilising respiration and heart rates
Enough to make us stop and look,
Just dying to watch those distant cousins
As they leap onto the joys of another branch
And for us, those of another day.

     ll.   Breakfast Treat
     Ferreting, finding, nibbling, gnawing,
     Out for breakfast and a double-dose pile up
     Of acorns cracked open and pine cones dissected,
     But a pass on the conkers – they’re bonkers for starters.
     Just scrape off the bark as you stretch for the bird-seed;
     Pick your slot, mate and nick the lot for the plate.
     With two-handed action fast-feeding the face,
     But still making no impression on the scales
     This light-weight expender of energy,
     Cheeks stuffed like Popeye’s, with a figure like Olive’s
     And still a doggy-bag full for cold storage.
     While we skimp on muesli that should have been bird-seed,
     But end with a huge stack of pancakes, swimming in syrup
     And topped up with strawberries - and cream.

lll.   Created to Love
Watching and waiting, silent and searching,
Perched on your pew with hands folded,
Ears pricked up, ready for listening
As though waiting for the sermon
From Saint Francis to Assisi’s animals,
William Booth's to the East End poor,
Billy Graham to a crowded Harringay.
But they’re gone; these days there’s none for the young
So you’re at our window, expecting yours from us,
Bewildered by our own search, reluctantly muted,
So all we offer is a gentle smile
Expressing the joys of simplicity
In finding another needing to love and to be loved.
Oh, sorry – so it’s just a nut you wanted.

     lV.  Banker’s Mate
     Scratching, burrowing, drilling, digging
     Underground tunnels turned into vaults,
     Ten talents or one – all are buried, stashed cash,
     Treasure laid up miles below heaven
     Where neither moth nor rust can corrupt,
     But all disintegrates into compost and dust
     In this HSBC for rodents with zero percent interest
     On the acorns of hoarders in lawns without borders;
     Making their deposit in strictest confidence
     While no-one (but us) is looking
     And no-one (not even us) knows how much or where,
     So not even they know where to retrieve what’s needed
     Until the will is read and all is revealed,
     But even then, they find there’s nothing there.

V.   Friend or Foe?
Scurrying, scampering, darting, diving,
Tails wagging wildly, furiously flapping messages
Warning of invaders be they canine or feline.
Sirens wail and blue lights flash after 999 calls,
But here squirrel squeaks and semaphore signallers
Upload nature’s codes for downloading,
Surpassing the speed of Twitter
Or the latest of Nokia texting.
While the gang rush to the topmost branch
Out of sight in the Faraway Tree,
Until there’s silence in the close
As he leans the red bike against the trunk
And goes from house to house with the mail.
Relax - it was only the postman, and he’s a friend.

     Vl   Beauty Parlour
     Scratching, stroking, cleaning, combing
     Higgledy-piggledy scalp hairs put in place
     As one looks at the other in mutual admiration,
     All paws busy with early morning beautification,
     Preening on the eight-eleven to Charing Cross -
     Lines converging on the facial centre,
     Eyebrows curled and whiskers twirled,
     Eyelashes weighted with overnight mascara
     And the powder brush puffing to smooth it down,
     While we admire the red-head on the other branch
     Thinking it’s about time we had our hair coloured
     To disguise these ageing hairs,
     But then sit back, content with who we are,
     And what we’ve become. Grey!

January 2012

Margaret requested verse about some of her friends in the quadrangle of The Elms - our housing estate in Bromley, Kent.

See also: More Squirrels in The Elms

Eastern Grey Squirrel - From Wikipaedia - Tom Friedel