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