Poetry | Evacuees by Caroline Smith

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Caroline Smith


Evacuees

 

Everything is told as it’s always been:
the half-moon marks
made by the agitated horses
backing across the cobbled yard.
The blacksmith, still irritably
wading over in his split leather apron
with flaming tongs;
halters twisted round the fence post
in the trodden corner of the field
and the scattered rinds of hoof clippings.

Was it this year or that year
when he shook out pale slabs of hay
into the troughs,
the sweet dry smell of evening
the horses pulling out wisps with blunt teeth?
When he slept on top of a pile of mattresses
and slept so deeply
in the countryside blackout,
in the farmhouse box room,
away from the noise and terror of London.

Nothing more or less
is ever told of this story
just the same few fragments
left for me to colour in.
The last evacuees to be picked
because there were two of them;  
how the brothers perched on the back
of the jolting cart and rattled
through the darkening fields
from Tiverton station to the farm.

 

Caroline Smith was born in Ilford and studied Fine Arts (sculpture) at Goldsmiths College. She now lives in Wembley where she also works as an immigration and asylum caseworker for a London MP. Her most recent poetry book, The Immigration Handbook, published by Seren Books, was shortlisted for the 2016 Ted Hughes Award and translated into Italian in 2020. Her new work in about aging and dementia.


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