The Last Hillman - Poem by Sheena Blackhall
The slates of the farmhouse roof
Know every weather.
Today it is sunny. A broken scythe
Smiles up from fiery nettles.
Inside, the cluttered parlour is a fly trap,
A dust collector, a century's detritus.
Wind, with its cherry fingers,
Taps at the window.
I have come to study him, the last Hillman.
He is a prize specimen.
He greets me with tea,
Bitter and stewed from the pot.
Tea leaves swarm at the spout;
I shall drain this day to the lees.
Over the cluck of the pendulum,
Weeps the wail of a kitten
Picking its wobble way between two plates.
The Hillman bends his head,
A hawk mantling a lamb;
Opens his stubble jaws, bares yellow teeth
And lifts it with the tenderness of a girl.
Limp as a rag it hangs from his crooked mouth.
It does not struggle or cry,
As he carries it down to its mother's furry side.
The pendulum ticks on over the rattling wind,
The squawk and scrape of a hen.
Each year the brambles creep a fraction closer.
Whumff in the dying fire,
A birch log falls, into its own cremation.
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