His Head Don’t Ache Any More – Elizabeth Bracken

The George Crabbe Memorial Poetry Competition
2002 Crabbe Memorial Competition – First Prize
Adjudicator: Rodney Pybus

“His head don’t ache any more
– the chap who hammered this in,”
my father gasped
drawing the nail, thick with rust,
clinched to sound wood
in the back of the barn
where cobwebs drooped with dust.

He does not know the smell of sun on corn.
His tongue no longer tastes the rasp of beer
nor do his ears resound to climbing larks.
No hands find warm round flesh beneath coarse cloth,
nor eyes make out the running of a hare.

Gone, with the hum of privies,
raw hands in frost, sour bread,
a child’s sob of pain,
and the sight of a small rough box
carted through the churchyard gate – again.

Copyright © Elizabeth Bracken 2002

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