The Herdsman’s Children


for Michael Hulse

April 15, 1991.

Every day and the world spills in on me when what I want to do
is think about drowning, the meaning of going under, the great below.

Nineteen small bundles lined up today in the mosque morgue at Jucurdja Camp
and it’s raining here as well as there, though the sound here is only
sparrow argument and not the stretched-thin wailings of small hungers.

The children are in line at the edge of the world where we’ve placed them.

I stand with my face to the window, my mouth open.
The daffodils push and push towards blossom against the rain and nineteen
cloth-wrapped bundles line up behind them where a widening passage
gapes and gapes and I don’t want to know about
this way of going under opening among daffodils in my garden.

March 1992.

Remembering myself at the window: hands gripping the back of a chair,
daffodils, rain, the precision of cold glass on my forehead
representing the wails of dying children.

We lean towards these sensations, the focus of them,
this limited connection. Watching the dying, several worlds away,
the pulse curves, then steadies, as we stutter towards words, stammer outrage,
anguish (mean it, every single word of it), never,
our tongues taut, loosening our throats and unleashing the animal howl,
that inarticulate rough sound, the body’s unlearned untidy response.

At the edge of the world the children

Rate this post
Previous articleA Moment’s Absence
Next articleHunger


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here