The Woodland Wether by Kay Buckley

The Woodland Wether
after ‘Lost Lad’ by Richard Furness

As autumn gives up her turn
a lad wonders from home.
Off to find the shepherds out
penning sheep that roam.

“Where are yer Abraham
best cut of me heart?
In spite of all trouble
a couldn’t be withart.”

So his mother wrung out
her tears ‘til folk got together,
and the cry came out,
“Send for our running man, the Wether!”

With light falling and torches
lit like scratches against the black,
a tall thin man set the pace
onto the hill slack.

Night-wet the flat slap
of feet made it to Cut Gate.
Barefoot, the Wether’s soles
scythed sky. His shadow gait

like that of a hare running
in circles at trouble’s scent.
He sprang over Feather Bed Moss
and began to make the ascent.

No stone moved as he ran
across shales of millstone grit,
arching Cranberry Clough
as the hanging clouds split.

Moon scarred light picked
out paths that ran like streams.
He saw the jackrabbit riding
and followed his grey gleams.

In a shallow dip the boy lay
half clothed and shivering.
His hair was twiddled into knots
as he sat there whimpering.

Tending to him like a leveret,
the Wether carefully dried
his face. Soothed him,
until he felt warm inside.

The boy on his shoulders,
framed by the moor,
as the Wether brought him
back to his Mam’s door.

On Margery Hill a cairn marks
the place where the Wether
found the boy. Lost Lad alone
in the peat and the heather.

 

Kay Buckley lives in Barnsley. In 2013 she received funding for a Mentoring Programme run by Writing Yorkshire. Her poem ‘Huskar’ was overall winner of the 2014 York Mix Poetry Competition. Her poems have been published in magazines and anthologies including Butcher’s Dog, Brittle Star and The Darker Side of Love by Paper Swans Press.

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