Issue SixIssue Six PoetryPoetry

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By Cheryl Pearson


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.