A new poem by Jerry McGrath

Robin Crusoe’s Christmas

Christmas I observe from the crown
of a coconut tree, gazing down
upon a star-dressed strand,
a spyglass winking in my hand.

An ocelot appears, its patterned coat
bedazzles (no pearls adorn its throat).
It won’t say no to armadillo
or iguana for dinner.

Solitary, he swims at will; his past
recapitulated in the kill
of crab, rodent, bird and smaller beast,
his manners less than sterling at the feast,
which is but brief,
absent of longueur.

The northern tamandua shows up dressed
in fancy waistcoat and suspenders.
Nocturnal, he dines late, like a Spaniard
before his midnight plate.
Ants are his fare – a powerful proboscis
lifts off the stump or rock, the lid
to so much goodness
it once hid.

My friend, the collared peccary
is easily mistaken for a pig
– but fussier by far;
his preference for root and nut and prickly pear
speaks of his virtue and his mild air,
which attenuates the coarse impression of his coat
and snub-nosed snout and tusks
and musky gland – a noble fellow,
social, no less grand
for being taken for an omnivore.

Pleased am I to see my closer kin,
the capuchin, white-fronted, with whom I
sometimes share canopy and shade
and, from time to time, a puzzled silence,
mixture of brotherhood and fear.
Rank to him is central: some essence of the male
obtends my presence here.

I’m sure at times he studies the horizon
just as I, watchful for a sail to fetch me home.
But home is here these several Christmases.
My Bible and my goat are company of a kind,
the one Divine, the other somewhat less, marked
with a cloven hoof, though docile and pacific,
its eyes wells like mine.

Right now in York they’re roasting pork
and caroling in ale-house and in alley.
Poll, my parrot, meanwhile hangs aloft,
untroubled, above an emerald valley.