A Poem From The Archives

Nipper Harris


He says a gentle farewell

to the woman that held him

on her hip, and kissed

his new, clean outlines.


The woman who,

thirty-odd years later,

fell asleep in the inside

of the oven, where all

his birthday cakes were born.


He retreats to Eston Hills,

to the bramble thickets,

and roots, and steadily cries

into the soft ground, until

it is thoroughly nourished.


Only children taste his sorrow,

that sourness in the back

of their throats.


Only children appreciate

the eloquent poetry he recites

while wandering Eston town.


They want to take him home,

run a bath with bubbles,

let him dry in front of cartoons

and a strong four bar fire.


They can’t understand

why he uses fingers

as pincers, rather than taking

their small hands in his own,

and shaking them.


They don’t know that

he feels too much already.

Only the hills know this.


He feels for when

he was a young bullet,

and there were four walls

to go home to.


The children are intrigued

by his strangeness. He is,

in their eyes, a kindred spirit.

They imagine him snaring rabbits,

and sitting for hours whittling arrows.


Instead, he goes hungry,

wraps thin limbs around

his crooked torso, and recites

poetry to the trees while

waiting for winter and death.