A fearless chick loiters with intent
By Bob’s whitewashed seafood stall,
Affecting to ignore the cartons of
Whelks and cockles and lobster tails
Dispensed a few short steps away,
But pouncing on any edible debris
Unwittingly or deliberately dropped
By thoughtless human passers-by.
By Pent’s red brick sluice gate
They luxuriate in a bracing shower
In muddy, minute puddles left behind
Bygone, at least for now, high water;
With half an eye in the direction
Of Chummy’s charitable staff who
Discard empty shells on stony ground.
Teetering on bare, oarless rowing boats,
Or perched on piles of greying wood
Wedged deep into the hardening mud,
They pass the interminable time
Till the small crafts stir and sway again
And the sun glints on the windblown water.
A fretful throng starts to assemble
At the end of sloping Rocksalt jetty,
Squabbling over the best viewing spot
To wait in line for the painfully slow
Incoming tide to reappear;
In the meantime, scavenging for scraps
On the Stade’s concrete harbour floor,
Disdainfully dropping bottle tops,
Dog ends and paper coffee cups.
Shrieks and cries rise in intensity
As the prodigal, once truant waves
Flood through Folkestone’s golden gate,
Between the now closed off East Head
And war-ravaged remnants of South Quay.
A frantic chick chases after its mother,
Letting out a constant stream of whistles,
Pleading for a morsel of fresh fish
Now washing over its grateful feet;
But the peevish parent pecks its bobbing head
And bids it bide its time a little longer.
By Tony Quarrington