Poem – Chris Price

THE BOOK OF CHURL

I

Churl stamps through the swamp.
Wet scowl, muddy shins, leather
sandals chafing. Bile. He eyes the shaggy
blacksmith’s wife but she will not,
will not have him. So he stomps back
to the kine, who are kin, lowering
at him in the rain where grumble is
how they hold together happily,
humping and forgetting.

Churl remembers every
curse and kick that sent him
on his way to this outskirts hut
where even his damp fire
wants to smoke him out.
He nurses it, and in his breast
a charred ember grows arms
and legs and fingers that reach
for a length of rope then
tie the knot of reason
to twist it round the nearest throat.

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