Her last courtier,
a bright male chaffinch from a neighbouring tree,
bids adieu to her with song,
quits her young crowned head
then launches itself down the line of her gaze
across the morning park,
towards the café and toilets.

Were it now to land upon Albert,
who stands aloft at some small distance,
one hand in the breast of his frock coat,
one leg purposefully advanced
and slightly flexed at the knee,
we might believe this blithe spirit drawn
by tractor beams contrived of princely desire,
or following lambent atomic flight paths
seen only by birds, projected by cold marble eyes.

But it doesn’t. They do not even face each other.
The Consort has his back towards the Queen,
and she in turn is seated upfield of him,
compelled to watch what she does not care to observe.
They have been like this for one hundred and forty years,
and no one round here is quite sure that they understand why.

Not that our claim upon the fantastic
should in any way be lessened by the fact
of civic ornament thus churlishly disposed.
The chaffinch flies and sings, flies and sings
at will through the rippling air,
and if, as we hereabouts choose to maintain,
our statues have been invested with the right
to leave their plinths on the stroke of midnight,
and house souls again for the durance of the chimes,
then…ah, what then? Surely there will be time, just once,
for them to find each other, for fingertips to touch,
for moonlight on dew-spangled grass
to reflect itself in her eyes, for softly murmured words?
‘Albert, my dear. It has been so very long.’
‘Liebchen, these spacious gardens of the dark
are graced by your white beauty, and by day the songbird
trills homage around your throne.’