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10th Jun 14

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collections –
“The Silence Unheard”,
“Goater’s Alley”
“A Lope of Time”,
Shoestring Press;
“Another Morning of Quiet Pleasures”,
Soaring Penguin;  
“Where Acid Has Etched”,





On Being Presented With A Painting Of Buffaloes In The Snow

Snow did not stop us nor the long trek,
the mountain’s ridge constant at our backs.
Oh, we were not skilled, had not studied maps,
contours, but we knew the way of men, of stars,
though we remained wary. One of us remembered
the lash of a bullwhip on a back already red,
the ropes chafing raw places as log after log
added to the load. Another spoke of our virility, our horn,
being wrested from a brother only half dead, his bellow
choked in the dust as they stood on his matted head –
yes, we knew the ways of men, knew the potions
they contrived in the name of love. So when we heard
the stars had said a man would carry logs equal
to our own, we blared with laughter. Yet disbelief
is not our nature. Each contemplated the matter,
our thoughts slowing our steps in the rough of harness,
drawing down such savagery as even we had not known.
That decided us. Conference was brief – men are afraid
of our restlessness, our talk, and we have experience
of what that means. So we finished the season, dragging
timber behind us until the snows came when men cringed
in their byres but left us to roam, to fend for ourselves.
We waited until the river almost froze yet was fluid enough
for us to cross, our coats glittered, sharp with night-ice.
Come morning, all would be ice yet the river’s thin crust
would not bear the weight of man, would close over his head.
And so we remain resolute. We are not reluctant journeymen.
We will seek the one who is born to haul crossed logs.
If true, he will make history and he could be one of us.
Indeed, we have heard that he too needs shelter.
Why leave it to lambs, an odd donkey or two, our half-brethren
the cows and bulls – our breath is as warm as theirs.

Ruth O’Callaghan

in collection The Silence Unheard, 2013, Shoestring Press,
ISBN 978-1-9073566-5-0