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Blog - Richard Downes

Signs: Taking On The Cattle


I’ve never been a farmer, I’ve never farmed the land. I don’t know how to do it. I have no reason to believe that my life as a poet, photographer or activist lends anything towards a useful transferable skill. But I know a metaphor when I see one and the value of an adage. So it is I can see myself as a farm hand with other farm hands looking forward to our entitlements finally meaning something useful.

The change has come
They said it would
The day the cows came home
So it was we stood and stared
Into the hopeful distance

Beyond the road
Past the fence
Into the verdant field
We saw the arses of the cows
Away in doubtful distance

We stood at home
We went to bed
Tired out, we dreamt in colour
We heard the beasts mooing low
Yet far away in distance

We shared a plate
At our closed gate
And wondered, would it open
The animals seemed closer now
Closer, but not in distance

We threw the latch
We ventured out
Pitchforks at the ready
They turned again and walked away
But we made up some distance

The cows are cows
They’re not our foes
Still we cannot catch them
Obstinant they won’t give up
And they make up more distance

We scratch our heads
In mainstream schools
We learn the rules of herding
The bull and cows are closest yet
But somehow still a distance

We have the skills
And we’ve been paid
We now what we must do
We’ll herd the cows and bring them home
And there will be no distance

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