Jane Draycott: Two Poems
Nobody saw them | Strangers
Nobody saw them
Nobody saw them, or noticed the line they made
just by walking, the red shoes and things they had written
thrown down behind them like stones or pieces of bread.
Not the men they passed in the half-dark injecting the road,
not the bears, not even the wild woman, mother of seven,
not the hunstman on his road back to the palace alone.
No-one recorded their trail through the long grass and quicksands,
the towpaths and stairwells, how some fell into the fens
or disappeared backwards through hedges without making a sound
how approaching a village or hilltop their little hearts rose
at the prospect ahead, unaware what had already happened
the china already destroyed by the bull, the shop now closed.
So when the time came, it was only the birds in the trees
who saw their reflection : a window left open, a gap in the leaves.
"The wildcat of the Chilterns, which has been terrifying people from Ipsden
to Bix, is thought to be a panther ..."
Black as a bin liner all this summer it has cruised
the kerbs and counterpanes of the valley.
Too small for a deer and too close for comfort
it tries hard to be nothing, a blank face or leaf hole
but the couples coupling in the oak plantations see it,
a moving cinder at the edges of their binoculars.
The morning is lying very still in the road.
Next, the myths and rumours start: the language
of the workplace, contact sports and training schools
asking for reasons and its name in writing.
Jane Draycott's first full collection Prince Rupert's Drop (Carcanet/Oxford ) was a PBS Recommendation and shortlisted for the 1999 Forward Prize. A previous pamphlet "No Theatre" (Smith/Doorstop) was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection in 1997. She is currently working with photographer Jaap Oepkes at the River & Rowing Museum, Henley-on-Thames, funded by Southern Arts as part of Year of the Artist 2000/2001.