Subject: Take a Tern ...
From: Christopher W. Thomas (
Date: Sat Jan 8, 19100 at 7:23PM

Take a Tern

The lake below now has an icy crust
Cold enough to form ... but not, to trust
For, in parts, the water is clear to see
Merging with patches of ice, rippling free

But hard enough to have formed a slide
Allowing a rubber ball to just glide
Instead of coming to halt at water's edge
The yellow orb just skated on - a good test

Finally, coming to a rest, two-thirds of the way
Across the crusty glass surface - but, as clear as day
But, too far out to reach without going under
(The ball just might now have met its day of thunder)

It became of interest to some passing terns
Who all flew on down and alighted on the stern
(The ice crust had formed in dual layers at rear)
Never-the-less - they trotted close to the hard sphere

The birds were light enough not to have any trouble
Except one loner ... who had avoided the rubble
And, after a few minutes, the tern suddenly sank
But, after a flutter of wings, it quickly came back

Then, the gull moved swiftly across the thin ice-paper
Bemusing itself - on having survived the caper ...
And then - with a half-a-dozen friends, did approach
For the hard rubber ball was foreign to their rote ...

Then - the terns all circled the small yellow orb
But none of them went near enough to absorb
They just stood on the thin ice, encircling it well
Apparently, guarding it - from what I could tell ...

Cries then went out to all of the birds at once
Begging just one of them to go near and pounce
Picking it up in its beak and then flying to my shore
Thence, to drop it in waiting hands - a thought so very pure ...

But - it happened - only in my mind, not in my eyes
For the terns were still and waiting patiently by their prize
Perhaps knowing ... if only one of them - would advance to the ball ...
So will all the others ... and their combin'd weight ... just might drown them all ...

- Tristram

Christopher W. Thomas
5:30pm Sat. Jan. 8th, 2000