This article is taken from Stand 229, 19(1) March - May 2021.

Alison Brackenbury Six Poems

‘This is the menace test.’ The vet
moves cupped hands to the pony’s eye.
Now thirty, she has watched young vets

grey, like her muzzle, stoop, withdraw.
Red coat too deep for spring, she stands.
Right eye: three blinks. Left: slightly more.

From noon’s high glare to stable’s night
we steer her. Torch beams rake her face.
‘Horses should flinch from such strong light.’

But when he points his instrument
which streams thin brightness through her eyes
some light bends back, quick rays, unspent.

I galloped her away from guns,
trotted by iced trees, only fell
because she somersaulted, once.

She slowed. Then I stopped riding, late
last year. Come spring, she crushed my foot,
last Friday, barged against a gate.

‘The cataracts have reached both eyes.
The right is worse. That rectangle –
her pupil’s clouded. See?’ March skies

rush radiant past our dark place. ‘So,
what vision’s left?’ His case snaps shut.
The pony sees he does not know.

Dame Kathleen Kenyon eats prawn cocktail

First Oxford term – don’t snarl. It nearly killed me.
See me sit stiff, in the brown velvet dress
which crushed my untouched breasts, white plastic shoes
Lincoln thought chic in sixty-eight, all bought
by my lorry driver father, who heaved sacks
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