Robert Gray


Feeding chickens, pollard scattered like wet sand.

They jump down stolidly off their roost,
as an old sailor
with a wooden leg;
in there, underneath half a corrugated iron rainwater tank,

I’m stepping around the bare black ground,
wire-netting propped
on lopped poles.
Moss about, bits
of brick poking through, and bones.
Rusted wrench
pressed into the earth, jaws open —
an effigy of a lizard. Reeds.

In packing cases, one side gone, the eggs,
in dry grass.
On this cold morning, they’re warm, smooth

surprising stone

almost weightless.
Bent over, at the side of my face the silver
liquid paddocks, and steam.
My eyes and nose are damp, I see through my own smoke.

And I find
a calcific fruit, as if in the pockets of a vine.
I pluck out some warmth of the wintry sun,
in the hand.

What is beautiful,
said Ingres, is two colours, ashen or earthen, almost the same,
laid together.

Finding the eggs, the colours of dry sand —

I hold them up 
as the boy David would have done
his pebbles from the brook,
taking my time, 
to go out armed against the Philistine.