Poem: Io by Ellen Cranitch

Io

flat cow skull-bone trying to feel through coarse fur
his knuckles against her brow, the stroke-soft soothe-speak;

flat cow skull-bone gathering all thought, all nerve to accurately feel,
re-feel, focus, the small girl memory of his musk man-smell

when brush of his fingers on her hot forehead would soothe her;
flat cow skull-bone housing gold eyes, gold brimming wet,

black-lashed water, dripping gift-tears onto his hands: this one is sad,
says the father. Dull curved cow horns glance at air, turn wide

empty circles, want to link the once-known of arms with his
which reach up to soothe her; stout cow neck’s throat-choke

when he offers her the sweetest blades of bitter grass knowing
cow tongue’s stoat body squats inside her, cannot be lashed

into supple word-sound. Small word, smallest in the long poem,
carrying on its slight frame the whole yoke of utterance and desire

gifting the soon-to-be exiled poet a longing to shape into words,
into a dazzling white meadow of words to sing how words falter.

 

From Poetry Wales Summer 2015.

Ellen Cranitch’s poems are published by Carcanet in the Oxford Poets series. Her work has appeared in a range of magazines including Poetry London, Poetry Ireland Review and Ambit and won numerous prizes.

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