Till the pessimistic earth to gravel
where nothing will grow
until clot with bones
and kiss the cross your father left you
Seed grown in the furrow
tattoo the fluted fields;
summon the warm earth
and nominate the fruit
kiss the cross
like a salt lick
and it tastes like tangy pewter.
Lift the sacks onto your back, once harvest come.
you walk away slowly
from the market
back to the farm,
with a heavy poke of coins
which nudges your thigh
and through a right hand limp, generates
on the sinister side.
You return to see the men pull the pluck from a ripe lamb
and feed that third to their dogs.
Then kiss the cross he left you,
hold it to your cheek
your fingers smoothing
the thin third side of the coins you place
over his holy eyes,
under his holy sheets
and one in his silent, mouth.
And see the men
bleeding a chicken against a silvery sky while
the winter fruit blets in the frost like the
leathery bloodshot cheeks of the weary aunts and uncles
who return home from work, finished
and fall down on their palliasse hoping to die
blunt in the sheath.
Bury you him on the day in a groove ploughed
in the potters’ clay.
Chris Cornwell’s poetry has appeared in The Lonely Crowd & Wales Arts Review, to which he also contributes literary criticism. Chris is a former editor of The Lampeter Review & is currently taking an MA in Creative Writing at Swansea University.
‘The Three Great Silences of a Year’ is featured in the winter issue of The Lonely Crowd, alongside another new poem from Chris. The issue can be purchased here.
Copyright © Chris Cornwell. Author photograph & banner image © Copyright Jo Mazelis.