That is what they taught him, so
that is what he wrote
to his wife after her miscarriage
‘… the weather never lets up
and two of the ewes died yesterday in labour
I found them near frozen by the top hedge
I think about you and wish you were home
and I’m sorry I know it’s a terrible disappointment
what did the doctor say about more children
did he say when you’d be coming home
I have to go and get them ready for milking
hoping this finds you well as it leaves me
Your affectionate husband
And she read it, as they had taught her,
and said to herself, O Will,
and the woman in the next bed asked
have you been hearing from your husband?
Yes, he says there are two ewes down.
Yes, it’s bleak raw weather, we’re better off here
in the warm, getting all the attention
not doing a hand’s turn …
Your letters, written to praise and comfort,
have scared the wits out of me.
What God or hero could you have been addressing?
Who could be the subject of this nonsense?
And I clutch them in my pocket, as a clown,
under the high wire, grasps at his amulet.
© Vincent Buckley