I carried the lamb in a sack on my horse
It's buggered, said Dad, throw it in the creek.
The creek leaped, dimpled. Small bubbles
whirled, it rumpled where I was looking
the water shadowed half-blue-black
deep just there with duckweed floating out
the yards behind all noise, the cattle swirling
up air swelled with dust and bellowing.
Flies lighted on and off the rails.
I took the lamb and kneeled in the pudgy mud
both hands under it, under the water,
laid it carefully into the shocked cold.
It hardly struggled, there was so little left.
Put the bloody thing out of its misery
I heard in my head as I pushed it under
and the water shuddered.
Get the hell out of that he yelled at my back
you macabre little bastard!
It might have been ghoulish, he was good with words.
The yards were sweating hot
Dad wiped his hatband, the sack smelling
of dry stiff flax, I wiped my nose
my hand all mud and numb.
The birds hummed. In rain, in wind
I go out all hours on my lambing beat
he's the shadow of me, always riding beside me.
Let it go he said, quietly. I let it go floating
it bobbed and the sun caught the eye, closing.
Shush, shush, said the creek.
I heard Marty Smith read at the NZ Poetry Conference and she was an astonishment. She was on last, and everything had been pretty tip top – but my goodness me she blew me away. And one of the nicest people you could hope to meet in a month of Sundays. She posted me her book Horse With Hat (Victoria University Press) which had won Best First Book at the NZ Post Book Awards, and that was an astonishment too. I won't go on and on. Get your hands on the book and read it for yourself. (And also look at it, because the illustrations in the book are another astonishment.)
Marty will be in Melbourne for one week and it would be a shame to miss out on the chance to hear her read and have a bit of a chat. (But in case you do here is the link to her poem 'Hat' in Best NZ Poems with a recording of her reading.)
But don't. Don't miss out. Three chances so your chances are good.
Monday July 11
Brunswick Hotel 140 Sydney Road
744 High Street Thornbury
Wednesday 13th July
8pm – 10-30 pm
225 Canning Street Carlton
Saturday 16th July
2 - 5 pm