Black Country

Black Country 

published in Under the Radar, Nine Arches, 16′

Her shoulders lifted men from their sleep

boys from their borderlands.

Neither human nor loving creatures
their hands bled an oblique path

for her to burn through
to bury her skies – part her thighs

let the soot-rained wet
slip like oil rings over feverish grass.

It was their constant confession.
What they loved was cancer, what they dragged

they hated and loved as their mothers –
the doctrine of the stoop

labouring under her big wheel
their torches were moon heads

their glow-tongues
her worm heads. At dawn

the sky divided
her return brought the sky-chain ringing

people singing in droves,
dragging her blowtorch godhead –

Were she to have stood on her hind legs
the sky would have dipped forward.

Were the sky to have dipped
she would have clambered between stars

cradled the cycle of their star-work.
But being Black, and of the Country

she ploughed low. Lifted the belly of her coal
to her back, and with the weight
of it

When men went away
they dropped to their knees and prayed

© Helen Calcutt 2015