The Birth

Nine o’clock clammy night

black as welsh cattle.


Came to us talking of imminent birth

Out there, he said. Were we up to it?

Yes, he would be along later,

– after Match of the Day.


Moon rising, we met his lassitude

with a casual ‘maybe’,

but quick mac’d and booted,

torches flashing on the cow-licked field.


Hello, giant moon-blessed shadow.

We stopped; the cow stood, bearing down,

breath hard and harsh,

she minded by sympathetic aunty.

Shush, then, Charlie black cat,

mischievous annoyance

grass-dancing around her

black belted body.


Eleven O’Clock. When?

Inexperienced midwives, we,

watchful and distant, waiting.

Then came striding,

wielding giant forceps, he,

confidently night-wards.


One o’clock: Mucoused arms

deep in steaming buckets.

In our stinking, straining

eye bulging exhaustion,

we came of age

as the calf slipped from her, to be

tongue-tickled in warm, damp grass,

aunty traipsing off to herald the new arrival.


He, tired, emotional, nodded thanks,

and we, looking back, reluctantly retiring,

whooping, giving high-fives and mooing.

Brian’s Nasturtiums – by Julia Dean-Richards

The random right side of my brain

would do pretty much anything tonight

to avoid opening the file

the left side of my brain sensibly calls ‘work’.

The rational left side of my brain

has analysed the situation,

fully understanding the benefits.

Half an hour of preparation would be commendable,

optimising my performance tomorrow.

Following a logical sequence,

it deduces that I would not have to blag

my way through the day,

eating humble pie for lunch

as I am pulled up

by a more objective colleague.

But intuitively throwing back another glass

of Australian red,

I squint at my week through a small hole

in a rigid wall of boredom ten vermillion miles high.

Sunderday is a slanted time,

subjective, flutterdrunk vague as me aunty,

and I am rilling to whisk

Monday’s bonhomme in its entirety

to keep those noodling neuron dark alleys

alive and splendiferous.

Magic – by Julia Dean-Richards

When I am in your house

magic is there.

It is in the Hoover

the dustpan

the dirty sink;

it is in the ash bucket

and the coal-scuttle;

it hangs over the banister

pretending to be an odd sock.

Magic speaks

through a cockerel crowing strangely outside,

through the grass growing wild in your garden,

through a CD I didn’t choose;

it jolts me as I drive over potholes

on the way to your door

and calls to me through your rattling letter box.

I don’t say much, because I am listening.