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Wood Cuttings- New and Selected Poems

Liam Ó Muirthile
Cois Life

The Pups


He had a deed to do that had to be done at night,

back in Caum if the car was right
the job would be done before closing-time.


Morning was spent shearing with a pair of nifty clippers,
 I was driver to the agile man of the cliffs,
 a fine day out for one of the learners of Irish.


The smell of piss, a bustling dog, the maa of the flock, dye marks,
 frightened eyes of the sheep as he wrestled with them,
 pinning them to the ground, subdued.


The scissors-chop of sharp blades unfolding fleece,
my ears cocked like barbed wire
 picking tufts of the wool of speech.


He appeared in the door light and the engine not yet stopped,
down from the hill gripping a fertilizer bag
 he was in the seat beside me before I knew it.


I imagined one warm bundle of sleep heading for Slea Head,
not a whimper that would let the neighbours know
 if the pups were drowned in daylight.


Out of sight of the village he threw the bundle powerfully over the wall,
without untying the knot, they would crash against a rock
crushed before the waves took them all.

Going home after Kruger’s pub, a bag of spuds as a reward,
the small ones and bigger ones swelled on the floor
live pups jostling for more room to grow.