‘The Three Great Silences of a Year’ by Chris Cornwell


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

a scalene


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

and stop

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.


lonely 11Chris 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.