THE FROGMORE POETRY PRIZE 2016

Eve Jackson

CALVES ON A CAROUSEL

Their destination stamped on patterned
leather. Larger than a Flybe-sized weigh cage,
left to hang together like truculent kids
to roll with the big beasts of cud-chewing meat.

Going nowhere. With socks pulled up
on chunky legs, one rocks
as mother’s tongue drags his skin
into soft furrows of a dropped coat.

Wet dummy nose and silver dribble
its own plump tongue of pink
swipes nothing away; stands bemused
by this moment of bothersome ambush,

waggles its daft lugholes, too dopey
to know that this is not such a smart trick.
Heavy heads take turns to swing and bob, as if
what is viewed through their soft bloom of eyes

has to wait while the slow jump
across synaptic cleft travels
its idea – curious, numbed or wary –
to the moon and back.

A puzzle of colours lurch and shoulder
into mock herd harrow. Faces suggest
one has been greedy with a treacle tin, another
charcoal smudged of blameless grubbiness.

A rich-creamed beauty is flecked
by the sly swipe of a mucky rope each keeps hidden
as the ultimate schoolboy weapon.
They snatch and munch, wander close until

stunned by tiredness, legs fold into slump, and
strewn now like stuffed hold-alls dumped on the ground
amongst the bee buzzing take-offs
and nervy presence of butterflies, wait

for what happens next. With no announcement
one morning they will be man-handled from field to yard,
barn, mud, track, pen, truck, abattoir. Yellow-tagged on thiscarousel, with time enough to
learn the mournful art of lowing.



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