THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE SMOG IN THE FLIGHT-LINE
(With apologies to Mark Haddon)
coming in to land
we met it –
a wall of impenetrable obscuration
and then the runway
clear as 20/20
the pilot surprised as the rest of us
at the nearness of solid ground.
You put down the book
you were reading
and, having fun with the title,
changed the words
to mark the moment:
our safe arrival in Spain.
MISS SWATMAN SUPERVISING PLAYGROUND GAMES
in a striped top and belted slacks
she’d spring us
words of encouragement
as we lined up for
our first leap in the light.
Stooping and crouching
on all fours
we became each other’s
This was our leaping time
the moment we discovered
by working in pairs
that we could take the weight
off each other’s feet
and fast forward
slick as frogs
to whatever lay ahead.
FIVE BOVINE SONGS
“All cattle are descended from as few as eighty animals that were domesticated from wild ox or aurochs in Iran some 10,500 years ago, according to recent genetic studies.”
– John Lewis-Stempel: Meadowland.
Recognition should not be difficult.
Police assemble an identikit
facial features with big horns.
“Last seen wearing a brown and white coat.
Size XL. Believed to be from
Northern England –
Cowpen to be exact.”
Have you seen this animal?
The South Devon
In no hurry, they lurch
round the Landrover,
are jaw-slack and udder-heavy
straight off their tongues.
Even with the windows up
we smell their breath:
damp oats thick as hay.
The farmhand raises a stick in salute.
We start the engine,
release the brake,
Beyond these pastorals, Masefield’s “red land
…good for hops and roses” they have the
Mapa Mundi right beneath their feet…
are globe-trotters easily led
because of their disposition.
Herd by herd they hug the fields –
a team effort re-enacted
in every part of the globe.
The Belted Galloway
Facts I learned about the Belted Galloway:
That the belt is a white stripe around the middle.
That it is a polled breed.
That it is well-suited for rough grazing.
That it has a thick double-layered coat.
That its hair “sheds out” in summer.
That it is long-lived.
That it exists in numerous colours.
That it is well-adapted to harsh climates.
That it has no horns.
That this is all I know.
The Polled British White
Today we could not see you for snow
you were colourless in the blizzard.
I imagine you motionless –
your breath fired down
into frozen ground:
a blank page waiting for a word
which is a long time coming.