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sheena blackhall

(18/8/1947 / Aberdeen)

Chatsworth Estate


Chatsworth Estate
In an airy corridor
Duchess Georgina laughs from a painting
A grand society beauty broken
On the hazardous reefs of marriage
Ménage à trois, like another, later, Spencer

Now she’s a period piece
Her home’s a setting for the movie makers
Of bodice rippers, and 21st century Darcy lovers

In the farm estate
Pigs perform for the kiddies
Outside the smooth harmonious lawns
Lead off to misty horizons

Having enjoyed TV appearances
The mansion welcomes its fans
First on the hit parade of Stately Homes

Formidable ornaments, luscious and spectacular
Stun shuffling, gawping visitors into awe

Outside, a fountain like a released pee
After a lengthy wait, constantly empties
The contents of a channelled lake to the air

The splintering identities of a rock garden
By turns is Gothic, Dysney, even flintstone Stonehengian

This pomp and pleasure seat exhausts the eye
With its surfeit of garnered goodies

The backdrop rural tapestry of trees
Capably sculpted by Brown, the master gardener.

Down on the Farm,
There’s a Gloucester Old Spot Piglet
Perky bottom, corkscrew tail
Rooting and squealing this
Gloucester old spot piglet
Leaps like a crackerjack imp
In an explosion of pork on trotters
Envelope ears flap open
As this high stepping guzzling grunter
Greets the spring with a snort

There’s a Shorthorn
Russet and milky white 60’s fringe
The shorthorn’s sides are swollen with calf
Ballooning in late pregnancy
Udder, in mint condition at the ready
Tail begraggled with dung
Whiskery mouth and steaming snout
She is dreaming of Lickpenny Farm
And Cuckoostone Lane,
Glimpsed once from a cattle float

There are Chickens
Stilt walkers on twiglet toes
Cheepers, peckers, neck stretchers
Gawkers, squawkers, huddlers
Sibling clumps of cosy
Balls of fluff from Eggland,
Yolky yellow

There’s a hen
Seedy-eyed puffball of feathers
Patterned like parquet flooring
Pea brain coiffed with a red comb and wattles
Like melted sealing wax
Wing archer, pecker and strutter
Scratcher of ground and pinions

A blob of excretia emerges from a feathery muff
Plops on the dust, like a quivering dollop
Of mint and vanilla cream


And In the Poultry Shed
Hens perch like harem ladies
Squatting in orange saris
Sociably grooming
One preens her ruffled feathers
Another snatches sips from a drinking bowl

By turns, timid and bold
Broody and coquettish
They are all winks and sashaying tails
A crescendo of burbles

Like toffee slowing turning on the boil
A matronly specimen, florid and flowing
Stares through the latticed window
Lacking the will to flee

Some rest on the ground
Like upturned soup tureens
Of mulligatawny, with
Seemingly headless bodies,
Beaks, eyes and necks tucked
Most discreetly away

One has drawn up her eyelids
Sealing her vision in sleep

Meanwhile, Goat’s hair flows over his hooves
Like a boy in a man’s shirt
His horns rise up between his ears
Pointing in different directions
Like a village signpost
His snooty nose is aquiline
His lipless mouth moves sideways
Languidly chewing hay
His beard is stained with spittle
His tail, stuck on as a tufty afterthought

Submitted: Sunday, April 21, 2013
Edited: Friday, September 27, 2013

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