I wrote this poem some years ago after experiencing the events it describes while walking on Cannock Chase. It was later included in the pamphlet “Road Kill” which I co-authored with poet and publisher Nadia Kingsley for her Fairacre Press. Recently, during a similar walk, I experienced something like the same events.
The sound the stags’ antlers make as they lock together in a clearing in the wood above the quarry one morning in October
A hard clattering rattle
With a hollow after-echo
In the wet trees.
The sound of the victorious stag’s voice, heard from further down the quarry in the hidden, wooded valley
Deep, dry, a rasping
Grated booming, as of
A tree splitting.
The way the herd of does are glimpsed running towards the stag’s voice
A sudden scattered
Flash-fragment through the undergrowth
Quivering of twig-ends as they pass by
The high-voltage approach.
What other sounds are heard, peripheral to this grand drama
A woodpecker’s rolling
Stuttered laughter, the jay’s
Alarm-scream, the dove’s wing-clatter
A crow tearing a hole in the sky.
And what is experienced after
A secret silence –
A whisper in the blood –
The deep below singing