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Bullock Sheds

A poem based on memories of growing up in rural Suffolk and the strangeness of a changing home. From ‘Suffolk Poems’.

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Bullock Sheds

The old dairy farm’s being converted
by rich people. Clouds of saw-dust sail
as the builders cut beams to keep the original style
and to stay on good terms with the village council.
It’ll never look the same but they’ve kept the barn,
turned it into a garage for sports cars.

It seems a long time since we went with Philip
on his tractor to see the bullocks.

Inside was darkness, cut off from the sun,
heavy but for the shafts of light that burst
through the holes in the wall and the gaps
around the big barn doors. We followed him,
cautious but trusting his creased, kind face.
We followed him, down the central aisle,
our steps sounding on wet concrete. A thick
earth smell rose and the pungency of manure.

Large shapes shuffled and snorted in the gloom.
In metal pens either side of us, beady eyes
squirmed as they caught in the spot-lights.
He picked us up in turn so we could pat their faces,
“they’rr morre scarred of you than you arre of therm.”
We touched their wet flesh noses, then wiped
the slobber off on their fur, our cries of disgust
making them retreat, knock against the pens.

In a Suffolk spring where sports cars snort and
I remember the bullocks and a man with a tractor.


1 Howard | on 11 January 2011

lovely, evocative poem… the final couple of lines sum up the whole thing perfectly.

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