Stag-Boy

He enters the carriage with a roar –
he clatters in wildly and fills up the carriages with heat,
running through the train, staining the floor
with hooves dirty from the street;
tearing at the ceilings with his new branched horns,
banging his rough sides against the seats and 
the women, who try to look away: Gallant!
He sings hard from his throat,
his young belling tearing at his chest,
pushing at his boy-throat.

Stag-boy –

the train’s noise hums in his ears,
sharp and high like crickets pulsing
in the tall grass,
and he wounds it with his horns,
maddened like a stung bull,
pushing up his head,
pushing up his mouth for his mother’s teat:
Where is her beestings?
Where is the flowered mug she used to warm his milk in?

No good, no good now.

He’s smashing out of the train door,
he’s banging his hooves in the industrial air,
he’s galloping through the city squares,
and drinking from a vandalised spring –

And still his mother walks through the house,
crying: Stag-boy, oh stag-boy come home!

from This is Yarrow (Carcanet, 2013), ? Tara Bergin 2013, used by permission of the author and the publisher

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