Poems

Braided Wire

 

I wasn’t there. I heard this second hand, much later,

but textbooks show the methodology, the diagrams

for several presentations and for monstrous deviations

 

from the norm. For calves long dead in situ and for those

just recently deceased. For calves too big or those

whose odd shape makes their birth impossible.

 

So, let’s return to games with butter at the kitchen table

carving summer scrolls and corrugations, watching

beads of sweat emerging from the surface.

 

Look at the four of us, you’re telling the story.

My chair on two legs tilted on the dresser, and yours

steady by the Rayburn. You can’t remember much—                                           

was it by the cedar of Lebanon or in the beech wood?

You mime the act of sawing. I wasn’t there

but I recall the field which had that slope, so steep

 

it made the little Fergie roar.  The throttle out so far

the blue smoke coughed in rapid puffs and plumes.

The vet had laid his tools out in the field:

 

two buckets full of lubricant, three of warm water,

a hand pump, krey hook and a calving chain,

a length of braided saw wire with its introducer.

 

It was raining, water trickled through her hair.

Your hand on her flank felt the fat she’d come to,

her vulva swollen with two feet emerging.

 

Hooves, dew claws, pastern joints all faded yellow,

like the white rat I’d dissected in biology. She lay

in the copse under the beech trees, I wasn’t there

 

but beech mast crunched each time you moved your feet.

I’ve read how it’s done. I know the technicalities,

the rough dismemberment, and what that leaves you with.

Winner of the 2017 Kent and Sussex Poetry Competition

Nearer

 

rain is falling under sodium lights

the municipal toilet roof is bathed in gold

up station street the tarmac shines and little rivers

writhe and coil along the roadside gutters

 

it’s late   the traffic light in broken pieces

scatters across the deserted lane

in amber, red, red and amber, green 

in all the houses darkness slowly deepens

 

in this town on a night like this   my heart

glitters     each footfall takes me nearer

to your bed  and to the dark where I will

lie with you this little time   I thought

 

it could not be like this  but I was wrong

walking on light and water    coming home

from Hangman's Acre, Shearsman Books, 2009 

For any inquiries, please contact Janet Sutherland:

01273 470 413

07753358111

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