The story she told to the wooden cow

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Her fragile hand caresses me,
my undulating curves, carved sinews,
tweaks my oaken ears.
She whispers,

I’ve heard the Cherries coo, my dear.  And the Birch tree shed its skin.
Write a poem on each silver coil, about the cedars who creak
in time with life’s long bellow.

In my ha-ha, I couldn’t laugh.
She scratches her scarlet scarf with half a smile,
drops a single coil of auburn hair upon my face.

She begs me taste the grass that ripples beneath my sandy hocks,
touches a finger on my charcoaled nose.

Inhale park secrets from the backs of bees,
 
pats my scraggy forelock, and pauses like the air –

 

 The irascible robins demand I don’t give this up.
But it’s not my choice.
 
She shakes her head,
looks directly into my ebony eyes.

Don’t tell
 

©Jacqui Thatcher 2017

 

What is with the wooden cow?

The statues of the cows are quite new additions to a beautiful little park in West Sussex.  Not having been to the park for sometime, the cows seem to have appeared from nowhere, and quickly become part of the landscape.   Worth Park was once the ancient forest of  Worth, before making way for the estate owned by the Wiston family and later, purchased by Joseph Montefiore.  The  Montefiore family are said to have grazed herds of prize-winning Jersey cows on the parkland.  Ha-has (walled ditches) were commonly built to protect the formal gardens from straying animals and for this reason, the wooden cows have been situated close to the haha.

Seeing them for the first time on the Beginners Poetry Course, I was uncertain of them; I wanted them to be real, not the fakes that they were, wooden, inanimate.  But I couldn’t forget them; their presence niggled at me and I knew that they were to be the subject of at least one poem.  There was a homely feel to these oddities, a serenity that invited confidences from passers-by.

And that was where it all began.

But why add this today?  I spoke to someone this morning of someone who had found the poems at the park and asked me if I was the poet.  I had almost forgotten about the poems I wrote then and it was so nice to be reminded.

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For more information about the park and its history, http://www.worthparkfriends.org/our%20park.htm

 

 

 

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Taking refuge

 

A cello weeps through the closing
door and I can leave.  I flag down the bus,
don’t look  up when the Polish driver
makes a joke I  barely hear.
I sit alone, with everything crossed,
in an inconspicuous seat,
watching a single drop of rain
dribble a path beside me at this window.

Only then, do I look on the mouths
who move with notes so foreign
they would twist my tongue.
And on the chests who rise to steal
the very air that would fill my lungs.
And on the arms, which lift me,
cradle me and let me

rest.  The cello weeps beside
one thousand strings.  And
I float on your river of smiles
to find myself home.

 

This poem was inspired by a competition to write for the Proms season.  I listened to a lot of Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E minor to write this.  I don’t have a musical knowledge to fall back on -but I can still write in repsonse to music.

At the time, Brexit was in the news with the rhetoric of ‘them’ and ‘us’, whoever them and us were.  I couldn’t see it – all I saw were people, human beings, some with great lives, some with easy lives, but many with lives that they have that take a lot of juggling.   And then there are some with such tragic lives that it would be easy to turn from in fear that it might one day it might be your life too.

And yet sometimes those with those tragic lives of which we are afraid, have the most to share with others.

©Jacqui Thatcher 2016

(Image credit:  Mark Ramsay)