Wednesday, 12 December 2012

I Think I Was Nine

I think I was nine and a bit but not ten
‘cos the hay was down when the vet came
to the barn that smelt of bleach
that inside would soon be limed again
my calf was not sucking and the harm of the year
and his ribs were actually in real life outside his belly
and I felt between my thumb and fingers
the curl on his head and I smelt his coat
and heard the adults shouting
and the vet said a word I never heard before
and he smelled porter or sweat or maybe smoke
and he shouted into the Cortina boot

bastard leaves me a gun but no cartridge
I was nudged towards the door but sneaked back inside
so soon I would understand
the laughing demand for a substitute
the grunt and the spit as he stood over
my calf and brought down the pickaxe so fast
on his curl and the blow was just excellent
for my calf had slept all morning
only his nose twitched now

soft whores like ye would lave him suffer
I heard the sound of the axe again in my ears which
made me bite my cheek to make it go away so hard that I
tasted blood and wet one welly but no one saw
and ran up to the fort on the hill
licked the rain on my lip
and heard my uncle say very loud to the vet

you’ll not get paid for that
and looked down as the car drove off
and looked down as two tall men dragged
two shovels and my calf across the yard towards the small field
(where there was no river to poison
and which wasn’t suited to turnips
and hadn’t many stones that would slow the job
‘cos we had picked them summers before
only a place for dead animals)
and begin to dig
so I took off my wet sock and squeezed it hard
and hid it in my pocket
and after that I was dizzy and spitted only a tiny sick

© Noel Loftus

Terminally ill woman tells High Court she wants to die with dignity

Noel Loftus is a member of ward9writers based in Mayo and enjoys very short bursts of inspiration tempered by long periods of work.