The Ice Cream Vans

It has been warm this winter
so it was not until today

that I saw the vans begin
their slow rumble south –

startled into movement
by the early January frost

which had gathered softly
upon their windscreens

before waking them suddenly
as if from a night sweat.

I watch this strange procession
as it passes, a curious sight

suggestive of fun and funerals –
an ice-creamed cavalcade,

a cornettoed cortege
of lollies and ninety-nines,

all pinks and whites
and Mr Whippy markings –

bound for North Africa.
Not all will make it.

And, as they pass by,
I hear the wayward chimes

of Greensleeves, O Sole Mio,
Half a Pound of Treacle,

for these are the songs
they sing to each other

as they start their journey
and I feel myself charmed

even though they do not
chime for me.

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