Quick to scuttle in with the cattle sick,
or an ankle twisted fat on a root –
the caps wring flat by fiddling hands
would reach the moon lined end to end.
A divot, lady, in the cloud to let
the rain through, and the fields relax.
A cold poultice for the manor child,
her sleeping cheek pink as a slap. This
is the hook you hang yourself on. The pocketcloth
brittle with dried herbs. The words you keep
beneath your breath. They’ll remember
the night in the dark barn, a driving wing,
and you, red to the wrist. Forget how you freed
the eely slip of lamb, bloody jumble
of new life coaxed by your fingertips.
The village beds are heavy with husbands,
charmed to keep their buttons up
and eyes to their wives. Perhaps
it was the mistresses – they say
a woman scorned. They wear their crosses,
murmur in the back. Not a thigh among them
nettled by whiskers. Not a prickling kiss
to be had in weeks. How do I plead?
To the moon, your honour, for gentling.
And lick of flame for speed.