Stick in hand, feet in wellies,
a young girl bringing the cows
for milking, a two-mile trek across
Cambridgeshire fields, nudging
the cattle into line, doing what
she does every day after school.
The cows trail to the swing of their
heavy load, she skips along aware
how much there’s yet to do: feed her
motherless baby sister, bring water
in buckets, light the fire in the range
to heat the black-leaded stove.
Those days fold back into each other
when her fading voice tells me all this
as I lie on the eighty-year-old bed
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