He had a knife and a clean aspen.
He left out the bleating, the bells, the blades of grass.
He carved the bark: “What a beautiful place to grow old
without my beloved”.
He had the nails at the end of his fingers.
He had himself, the height of the trees, the lambs.
He scratched the bark: “Gypsy, a trap
for wild doves”.
The aspens tapped the soil, grew on, slurred the words.
He drove the herd down to the 1,000 metres.
He cut a fish, a star, body parts, the bark of a dog.
“My only pain is that of a woman…”
He had a tongue no one spoke that side of the sea.
He had a tongue to lap ewe’s milk from a bowl.
He left messages for the odds to come: “All is mine,
all is mine, all is mine”.
All this thick tough grass, this trial of trees, these foreign sheep.
He had them in thousands, someone else’s chagrin.
He had turned into the myth with the golden fleece: “At home
they think that we are heroes”.
“But we are nothing”, read the aspens, and
“This and this and that and my thigh”.
From Cry Wolf, Straid Award, Templar Poetry 2012