The Night Before Boxing Day

The Night Before Boxing Day

 She pulls up her collar and tugs down her cap

Her ruddy cheeks stung by the Eastern winds slap.

With rifle on shoulder, and spaniel at side

She sets off for a last check of covert and ride.

It’s now snowing lightly, the sun lowering red

She leaves behind family, all gifted and fed.

The turkey was perfect and Grandpa is snoozing

The children are playing, the adults all boozing.

Out past the paddocks and into the wood

Shaking the feeders and checking all’s good.

Out to the boundary, dogging in hens

Hustling the runners back close to the pens.

Off to the River Drive, following a fresh line

The snow-settled path now lending a shine.

She spots the trail easily, cat-like and straight

Over the meadow and under the gate.

She pauses here now, strong musk on the breeze

So pulls out a squeaker and gives it a squeeze.

The rifle is readied, the magazine clipped

The gate for support and the safety catch slipped.

The spaniel lies shaking, slight strain on his rope

A couple more squeaks, then her eye to the scope.

Out steps Old Charlie, from the edge of the trees

To stand in the half-light, listening for pleas.

A hundred yards plus ten, the light now unclear

Just one more squeal to bring the fox near.

The sixty yard pause and the spit of the gun

She lets out her breath. The cull cleanly done.

The shoot will sleep safer, the pheasants hold tight

One less present danger on a cold winter night.

So now back to the cottage and back to her kin

To a roaring log fire and a well-earned gin.

No more than a couple, then early to the cot

To dream about what’s done and worse still, what’s not!

No luxurious lie-in or hungover dawn

For the Boxing Day guns will be here in the morn.

Copyright Ian Barnett, Wildscribbler, Dec 2019

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