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.