We couldn't help spotting the old piebald gull.

He was sitting alone on the Voelklip rock,

Just watching the waves splash, the spray, then the lull,

Completely ignored by the cormorant flock.


The duikers were black and the gulls pure white,

Yet together they laboured by day and by night

Catching 'chovies and pilchards for aged and young

Ere forever o'er the ocean these dependents were flung.


There sat piebald alone, sad and 0 so forlorn.

Through the years, though rejected, he'd been able to fend.

Now face haggard, legs crooked, body thin, feathers torn,

He sat hungry, tired, worried, depressed - not a friend.


From a fisherman's pile of inedible haul.

I begged for the Piebald a helping of food.

Then wading knee-deep through the channel I crawl,

Offering something of life to this now dying bird.


Not an arm's length away, and he too flutters up,

Leaving Voelklip deserted - I'm alone on the perch.

So I watch as he circles and swoops - shapes a cup.

Then he plummets - a dive - for his food still in search


All the energy's gone from this once agile bird.

No control of his fall from the sky to the sea.

There he swerves from his course, and a great splash is heard.

As the white foam subsides, so a red ring I see.


I leave Voelklip, but soon they are back like a throng,

And rejoicing together they squawk out their song:

'No more Piebald, more Piebald, we're a pure strain at last.'

Embarrassment's gone, but the world stands aghast.




April 1966