Not 200 yards up the bridleway from where
the rabbit kit lies 4-by-4-ed on the tarmac,
its cream-fringed honey-brown coney
slashed with the pale pink sheen of gut—
clean still, not yet found by birds or flies;
in the muddy field corner, beyond
the white-flocked blackthorn, the glistening
red pennant of afterbirth still trails
behind the ewe whose head dips
to lick at her trembling, baggy-skinned young.
World-shocked, new to light and gravity,
shakily they lever themselves upright—
stand bemused, lift apprentice limbs, and crumple
onto mud, their untried bleats so faint
they scarcely trouble air. Nudged, nuzzled,
they blunder along her flanks, bunting her legs,
her rump, to find the waiting teats at last.
They butt. Comfort comes down, and quiet.
The ewe’s head lifts; she stares, and is still.
Startled by a walker’s footsteps, the pheasant
on the wall flounces magnificently off; crows
lift reluctantly from the tree—slow, deliberate,
like old men rising. The beauty and pathos
of all endeavour lie in the air: so many
endings and beginnings. Now. Forever.
First published in Ver Poets Anthology 2019, July 2019