Battle poem by Clare Mulley
Clare Mulley is a Yorkshire-born poet, shortlisted last year for Young Poet Laureate for London through Spread the Word. She has since been poet in residence at StAnza Festival 2015 in St Andrews, and had work commissioned by the Tate; her poems have been published by Tower Press, and Forward Press. Next year will see her taking up a year-long school residency in Chelsea, tutoring at the Scottish Creative Writing Centre and embarking on an Arctic expedition to complete an extended work about nature, journeys and global warming. Clare particularly enjoys writing on historical themes, and aims to raise awareness of the work done by the Battlefields Trust through a series of new poems inspired by major sites and commemorative events.
Colonel Okey’s Ambush at Sulby Hedge
by Clare Mulley
They had skirted the hedge, looking all the time for the softest path
free from betraying twigs. Somewhere a horse
whickered at silence, the smell of it
and there suddenly
the others, standing twenty breaths’ distance.
The moment rounds, grows pendulous,
a water bead
hung on the grass that fringes them, as yet untrampled -
yards away, one lad yawns,
another tosses ribaldries, unsure of how to fill an instant
both eternal and long lost (not knowing they’re already dead
as fate and earth can will it – as all flesh is dead at birth)
who must set the cogs in motion, pauses
a kestrel that mounts air’s summit without diving,
wary of the still field he must break
to draw blood
and make home.
He cocks his musket, one eye closes;
all creation hackles, that last instant, at the catch
of metal brushing back upon itself, gathered to spring.
There will be no undoing
the spark that follows.