Poem A Day/A Night In October

A Night In October

It is October. Cold has started to stir
in air that was, just a week ago,
comfortable to breathe, to swallow.

The forest opposite my bedroom window,
where, a few days ago, I found a ewe
with its stomach pulled out, sings long,
mournful songs. Leaves start to take flight,
and old trees grow gaunt and bitter.

At night, the forest’s songs grow longer,
more dismal and heartbreaking, pouring
into my bedroom like a heard of ghostly does.

I sit on my bed, knees pulled up, watching
light be consumed by the forest’s dark shroud.

I listen to my little sister, quietly sleeping
in the bottom bunk, thumb tightly tucked
between her lips.

Wolves have been extinct in England
for hundreds of years. But tonight they
have returned. Tonight, they are moving
like spectres along paths I too follow.

Tonight they will feast on the remains
of that heavy ewe that wandered down
from the moors and lost its way.

I bite my knuckles. Downstairs, Dad
watches TV, lets the fire burn low.

Mum takes a load of washing off the
hanging drying rack, layers on another load.

The dog is drowsy on the sheepskin rug.

I want to go downstairs, ask from the door
if we can keep the fire burning until morning,
until we go to school.

But I don’t. I stay in bed, book unread,
clutched between my legs. I stay upstairs
and watch the forest. I smell the wolves,
imagine their lips pulled back in snarling smiles,
as they lope along paths I too follow.


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