Jo McNeice

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There’s a train                           old hero,                                          grey beard
of steam
flickering on the screen,                      running down the line.     In the distance of the
late afternoon,
      cup of tea in my hand,                       I see                    a white owl fly low
over a field.
In the deception of the evening
a badger                   walks out of the woods              & into the path of an oncoming
A man & his dogs                  find a deer in the woods                       & bang
she’s gone.
You never do that               a woman tells her daughter-in-law over and over again.
In the yellow kitchen           of a dark wood house,
                                                                                 the girl finds lead shot in her
           The man’s mouth produces saliva forming words he will not speak instead
                     he turns to me & says
Why are you here?                      What are you doing here?
I shut my mouth.                                                  Swallow back my fear,
it is something      from a French horror film.           I recognise it.
There’s a woman with a small dog,      searching in a hollow for a lamb.       She
herself in a quagmire, skirt muddy, pulling herself up.
The dog, the lamb        & I run.
She grabs at leaves & roots,
is dragged down,
into the mud.
                                                   Her fear embeds itself under my nails,
black and tasting of countryside.
                                                               Wouldn’t he love to chew her up
                         wouldn’t he love to —
                                                                     These things    that mushroom
                                                                     in the kitchen,   in the dining room.
In the deceiving evening light,   
                                             there’s a train,                  some miles away.
                                                                                                I run towards it.

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