by Pippa Little
Baltard, County Clare, 2014
Finisterre by cliff. Nothing to see
but wheeled gouges, hooves’ half moons in a mud nowhere
the northerly never lets alone.
When a man, lost,
discovered what was done, it was News
with flash and strobe that brought
officials in topcoats, too, conferring
before the trucks arrived.
But by the time the trucks arrived
everyone was gone. The sea frayed
down the steep track
they juddered to the bottom of the cliff, men in aprons
loaded ten mares, four cows and three calves
into the cold interiors. Where they were taken
would never be photographed. The papers turn
mousy and soft, up-curl on a window ledge,
absorb leakings-in of rain.
Ears cut off,
forced alive over the edge,
necks, legs broken,
left to die slow. Who will mourn
this pearl-eyed cargo,
paperless and stateless?
Eire has a problem with unwanted livestock, mainly horses, too expensive to keep or to slaughter humanely. There is widespread press outrage.
Pippa Little is a poet, editor, reviewer and creative writing workshop leader. Twist, her second full collection, is published by Arc. She lives in Northumberland with her husband, sons and dog and is a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Newcastle University.