We pushed our eager way through the stormy November dusk
to keep our father company on his evening walk.
The cattle that he went to check that night
moved slowly through a sloping, generous field
once full of rich grass, thickening hedges and bright summer sun –
now scuffed and bare as it emptied with the year.
Winds whistled low through febrile, bony hedges,
hulking, beast-like, in the shadowed corners of the field.
We knew this sound for what it was – had grown with it –
chose to be wary of it but not to fear.
It was the phone lines – taut as webbing in that bitter, darkening sky –
that trapped our childish fear then set it scrambling free.
Plucked by the prowling breeze, the lines began to hum;
a chorus of howling voices vacillated with the wind
and seemed to echo the approach of some unholy things.
It was the voice of lost and lonely souls caught high in the web of night;
a hungry legion that capered in the sky above us –
that sought to fall upon us and then take their fill.
We children recognised the sounds of hunger –
and we ran.
I remember turning from my father in that night-time field,
to race, dry-mouthed, in pistoning, thick, fat steps for home;
the heavy rubber of my muddied boots
slapping against my calves as I shrieked and ran.
Three small girls raced each other to outrun the siren song –
we ran towards light, towards safety and towards what we knew.
The night closed fast behind us – hungry, dark, unfed.
6 thoughts on “Poem no. 5 Hunger”
liked the flow of the poem leading to – three small girls
raced each other to outrun the siren song
Thank you! Yes – our imaginations got the better of us and we abandoned my dad when we heard the wailing in the telephone wires! 🙂
“sloping, generous field” “febrile, bony hedges” — throughout, this poem is an accomplishment of very high calibre! I am very grateful to have read it.
Thank you so much for your kind and generous words! I walk along the road, beside this field, almost every day – and my memories are still strong of this dark and stormy evening when my sisters and I were terrified by the wind howling along the telephone lines stung over the road and the field. The power of young imaginations!
Excellent, both the story and the execution.
Thank you! It’s an episode I still remember every winter when the gales come in – even though it’s now some 40 years ago!