Some weeks ago on Platform 3          
               at Lewisham station
a working class man
               with a working class ferret
on a harnessed lead
               waiting for a train
to Charing Cross
               and when the train arrived
the ferret tugged restlessly at the lead
               eager to be the first to board
I wondered what business
               the ferret had at Charing Cross
though it was none of my business
               though let it be said
if anyone is interested
               that the word for a group
of ferrets is a business

Male ferrets are called hobs
               but all the girls are known as jills
and the babes as kits
               Though ferrets can sleep
for anything up to eighteen hours
               a day
you wouldn’t believe it
               while they’re awake
because they’re never still
               the pests !

Ferrets have been employed
               to lay wires
or as racers in rural fairs
               but the main use of ferrets
has always been hunting :
               with their long lean bodies
and inquisitive nature
               these mammals
are very well equipped
               for getting down holes
or chasing rodents
               rabbits and moles
out of their burrows

And like the rest of us
               ferrets are composed
of one hundred percent dust
               God bless ’em !

John Lyons

For the inspiration behind the poem’s final stanza, see Emily Dickinson: “This quiet dust was gentlemen and ladies / And lads and girls,” and also the final stanza of “The Color of the Grave is Green”.


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