Poems from Turning, the new collection from Adam Horovitz.
Last Night She Saw Badgers
He stands at the school gate
trembling like a hunchbacked tree
at winter’s rise.
The air is glue. I wade to him, each step
taking all of my twelve years.
He is grey as the rope we found in Orkney,
coiled and faded on the cliffs of Ronaldsay,
worn out with hoping for the rescue
that would never come.
The car is waiting.
We must go to London now, he says.
Death waits in the car, unspeaking.
I too am silent. The blood rushing
in my ears like howling trees
is noise enough for me.
I do not track the journey.
It is over in moments.
I am bending time to reach my mother
in her sad bed in the stale ward
where my two plastic Star Wars toys
stand against the coming dark.
Too long I have waited in the deathly quiet
of the Vicar’s house, unspeaking, ungrateful,
mapping out how I will run away to London.
Too long without news and contact,
the dreams I’d shared with her as a child
rising again like tides too urgent
for the moon to pull them back.
Last night she saw badgers, he tells me
as we walk into the hospital.
I remember walking with her to see a badger’s sett
on the other side of the valley, the orderly piles of dung,
the cowslips, the dusk.
Last night she saw badgers at the end of her bed.
A House Built From Cloth
I grew up in a house built from cloth
played in the ruins of cottage industry
old stones like teazle teeth
chewing at my feet
fragments of industry
their lime-wash white
faded to a smoker’s gold.
I grew up in a valley
stretched over stone like cloth
rolled footballs and roller-skates
over sheep-felted grass
in the stream
under the old trade road.
I grew up in a landscape
where hedges and dry stone walls
ran through the fields like seams
where the past
was a runic language
stitched, dyed and woven
into oracular hills.
Time settles like ordered cloth
in these valleys
catches itself red handed
as it is folded back.
I grew up watching the past
pulling the weight of the future
along the canal’s linear thread.
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