Foot and mouth disease, 2001 England

Five days later, he returns

to the stinging whine of flies, vultures

and a pile of fifteen corpses

lost in the cull,

a firebreak for the farm

with the viral disease.

He sees a ball

of quivering white fur

curled on the tummy

of her mother.

A twelve-day-old calf,

pink lips still attached

to a dry nipple.

He plucks her from the ashes.

Her belly swells

when he bottle feeds her.

As she stands, her hooves

sink into night’s cooled soil

at dawn on the farm.

He names her Phoenix.


(Published as Culling in Grab-a-Nickel)