BEGINNING OF THE YEAR

I open the door to the pig shed.
They run out, head straight to the trough.
I check them over as they eat.
When I pat one’s back, it turns,
tries to eat my boot. I stroke its ear.
It grunts, goes back to its food.
I check the bedding in the shed,
take a spade to clear the night’s muck.
None of this is significant.
It’s a few minutes that pass.

A storm is coming.
For now the storm is somewhere else.
By the time it reaches here,
it will have left where it’s come from.
And neither I nor the pigs
will be where we are now.

I follow the track we have made
into the woods. The shoots of orchids
already push through the dead
leaves of oak, apple and ash.
I pass into the hollow
where hares shelter.

Through the bare branches,
the sun in its shallow arc
connects us to the time of day,
to secrets kept, now buried,
to the ghost tracks
of the dispossessed, the afraid,
that seem to go nowhere
except into the past.

Once I found a deer here
not long dead.
Hit on the road, perhaps it had followed
its track until it felt safe
in these woods and lay down
to die to sounds
it understood.
The earth vibrates.
Within it, we vibrate.

There is no map to show me
where clouds go.
Exactly where do clouds go?

Wind blows its hail
across the field.
In the darkness of the shed
the pigs bury themselves
in fresh straw.
I shut myself in the cabin,
watch trees bend and water
gather itself in old tracks
I’d forgotten were there.
In the end is the beginning,
in the beginning, the end.


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