Saturday, 24 January 2015

A Poem a Day (22): Wanted on Voyage (Paddington Bear)

Today's poem is written for the Poem a Day challenge on The challenge is to write an erasure poem, which I've never heard of before, based on the first chapter of Paddington Bear. Here's how it works: you choose some words - however many you like - and put them into a poem. You can follow the theme of the story or write something different. 

Here are my chosen words:
humming, station, bear, suitcase old and battered, husband, unusual, brown, odd-looking hat, wide brim, black ears, good afternoon, politely, can I help you, rare, Darkest Peru, stowaway, starving, marmalade, Lucy, lifeboat, London, big place, please look after, sweet, irregular, such a hurry, Paddington, distinguished, long journey, sea water, thirsty, label, parcel, Henry, paw, best circles, jam and cream, saucer, bun, stickiest, tea, strawberry, laughing blue eyes, paws, somersaulted, funny, bath, taxi, letterbox, jolly, thirty-two Windsor Gardens, bookstall, bear.

Wanted on voyage

To the visitor, London is such a big place
With everyone seeming in such a hurry
To get somewhere, just anywhere,
Clutching suitcases old and battered,
Odd-looking hats and blowing scarves.
It’s a sight never beheld in Darkest Peru
Where everything is done in slow motion
As though wading through marmalade.

A cup of tea is as welcome as a lifeboat
On the roaring, cascading saltwater sea.
“Can I help you?” asks the jolly girl
With laughing blue eyes serving buns.
The tastiest, stickiest kind you’ll ever find,
Packed full of strawberry jam and cream,
They somersault into greedy mouths,
To be gulped down with a look of glee.

“Bring me a saucer, young Lucy, will you?”
A man cries over the top of idle chatter.
The girl turns to obey, acting sweet as pie
While avoiding the old man’s lascivious paw –
Her least favourite customer, always here.
Every single day the station is humming;
Queues of the best circles take a taxi.
It was funny how things never change.

Lucy’s favourite customer is late today.
So distinguished, he takes a long journey,
Always stopping at Paddington Station
To say “Good afternoon” with a smile.
But today he has not come, so unusual;
Where can he be in this endless swell?
Then she spies him, so rare among men,
Ever polite in that wide-brimmed hat of his.

He steps past a bookstall towards the cafe.
“How may I help you?” Lucy asks as usual.
To which he smiles. “How may I help you?”
A moment of silence and then he breaks it:
“How would you like to be a stowaway?”
“A stowaway?” she mutters, bewildered.
He smiles. “Only to the cafe across the way
For some cake if you can bear my company!”

She smiles, blushes and nods. “Just an hour,
For my break will only last that long, sir.”
“Call me Henry,” he says, “everyone does.”
With that, he takes off his hat and mock-bows.
Taken aback, Lucy calculates her break is now.
“Thank you,” she says, smoothing her apron.
“No, thank you. This will be something special –
Then I must be off to thirty-two Windsor Gardens.”

Copyright Vickie Johnstone

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