Deer cull, Wytham
7th February 2015
A moment’s pause before a fist of swallows
spooks the sky above the nearest trees.
Something shakes the fence-bound rows,
bursts through bracken, reappears
on fallow earth: two deer, mud-sprayed
and plunged with melt, lips puckering
to a hoarsened bark, dark eyes like slate
fired in the run. My finger
leaves the shutter for long enough
that bounding across seed-rows they are gone,
the cracked frost making an ashen path
to a gap in the horse-wire thorn,
the next field, and the one beyond
where white tails vanish into wheat.
I look more closely at the ground.
Here they stood, and saw, and blinked back death
then turned with gunshot simplicity,
fled, like any creature would,
but struck on the flint of that eternity
more alive than in the burnished wood.
‘What Follows’ won third place in The London Magazine’s 2015 Poetry Competition
Born in Singapore, Theophilus Kwek has published two volumes of poetry, They Speak Only Our Mother Tongue (2011) and Circle Line (2013), which was shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize in 2014. He won the Jane Martin Prize in 2015, the Martin Starkie Prize in 2014, and was also Highly Commended in 2014’s PBS National Student Poetry Competition in the UK. His poetry has previously appeared in Cake, Spork Press, Cadaverine, and both the Asiatic and Mascara Literary Reviews. He reads History and Politics at Merton College, Oxford, and is President of the Oxford University Poetry Society.