Deer, Orchids

deer 2

We step up to the verge and lean
over the gate, the faint trace
of terraces folding down the slopes
like linen to the stunted oaks
and streams of Powerstock Common
where we’d parked and started walking,

though we didn’t go far – mum
with her cane and John’s medication
back in the car. We stopped
to take some photographs.
The light was clear and spotted,
wild deer crackling at the
violet end of the spectrum,

and there in the rough ground,
rose-pink orchids, one by one
in their meadow colours,
stars of the common shining
in sunlight’s silver scree.

For a while we were completely alone.
Then, at the end of the track we saw
a hunter park up in a blue hatchback
and in the boot of his car, three headless
deer, their hooves removed and swaying
in the orange plastic Sainsbury’s bag
he carried with him as he washed
the blood from his boots in the stream.

Tim Cumming


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