The final lot. In a deserted maze
Of hurdles, polite circuit of the ring
Discharged, she shakes her dripping mane.
It parts each side of a mild dark eye.
Who will start me with twenty pounds?
Radman, square as his pigs but not naïve,
Leans his bulk on the fence, chews his pipe;
Stares at the drizzle, at the rough-knuckled hands
Driving a last skittering sheep up a ramp.
Twenty-four over there. Twenty-six. Twenty-eight.
Her damp-silvered flanks steam gently.
For thirteen years she pulled the pig-float,
Suffered fat-legged boys to be lifted to ride
Who now swagger new motors through town.
Twenty-eight. Twenty-eight. Any more, gentlemen?
Beneath a fresh curtain of rain, coatless
Lads under empty bale-sacks rush to the
Tea stall canopy. Radman turns his head from
The patient, scarce shifting of plinth-like hoof.
…Gone, at twenty-eight. Congratulations, sir.
Enough for a truck. In his hand, a paper
Promise for his pieces of silver;
Radman blinks as the mare is led off,
Her prints fleeting frowns on the stone.
Elaine Ewart, Fenland Poet Laureate
Written for the King’s School Ely Jubilee Country Show