A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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September 2006, vol 2 no 3

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Rona Laycock

The Cowshed

weary three year old
up on the cow's bony back
trying to keep warm.

Yellow milk is sloshing rhythmically into a pail. Warm air, straw smells, cow breath are all heavy and humid and redolent with life. And then, a tobacco cough and suppressed oath of a man weary beyond words, his life spent scratching and scraping to make a living. He wears holed sweaters and trousers with patched knees, his shirt cuffs are frayed beyond repair but he lifts his voice in song, shouting loud defiant praises to a Welsh Deity.

down in the valley
the heron takes a grey fish
under the dawn sky

Never one for Sunday church or chapel, talking directly to his God, man to man. He questions the cards dealt to the hill farmer above the Mawddach. Bitter cold of many winters has gnarled and bent him and the raw mountain winds have gnawed at his joints.

the child is fearless
lifted high into the air
to see the whole world

The man tilts his cap and smiles, creasing ramshackle features.