Chatcombe at night
The stableyard hangs lit. It is a ship
with its warm galley in the house below.
Now, through the rain and mud, our seaboots slip.
The horses, with their billowed rugs, blot glow
of wind-tossed bulbs. They crash like waves into
their strawed, lit stalls, stare over cabin doors
while barrows, bales and buckets creak and flow.
Hay shines with summer, but outside is pain,
caged chickens, with burned beaks, crowded inside,
the pigs in pens, no mud to bask and turn.
Outside, are plans. Cows would stand side by side
for all their lives, strangers to sun or clover.
Is meat worth this? Close eyes. Blood beats. Decide.
These horses are an island, where I stayed
for twenty years, whose stubble stretched so far
we galloped, till breath heaved. Yes, I have paid
my passage, drag hay, past the doorway's bar,
chug hills, like mounting waves, in my worn cars.
The horse is old. I stroke her brow's bone, turn
to dark, the wall of wind, the sea of stars.
Alison Brackenbury was born in 1953, and is descended from a long line of British shepherds and farmworkers. She may be Britain's only poet in a boiler suit, as she has worked for over twenty years in her husband's family metal-finishing business. Her most recent collection is Singing in the Dark, Carcanet, 2008. Her eighth collection, Then, is due to be published by Carcanet in April 2013.
Alison is extremely interested in poetry on the Internet. She publishes new poems via her blog at www.alisonbrackenbury.co.uk, and via her Facebook Group, called Poems from Alison.