The wind ripped out the flimsy fence that kept
A fragile peace between the warring horses.
In haste, we gathered torches, hammer, nails,
Electric wire, stout wooden posts and rails,
Zipped coats, pulled caps down tight and then set out
Like rustic sappers going up the line,
A slipping, stumbling, tripping, fumbling, slog
Across a no-man’s-land of mud and weather.
Together, in that wild, gale-whipped world
Of liquid ground and winter-hardened rain,
We drove posts deep, strung wire and hoisted timber,
The watching horses wondering why we laughed.
Till filthy, frozen, with our task fulfilled,
We marvelled at the first enduring thing
We’d ever built between us. And the last.
Another blank-verse retread of an old, previously unpublished free-verse piece, this from 2004. When I was about 15, my dad and I dashed out one foul winter night to the yard where our horses were living, to make some emergency fence repairs by torchlight in a howling gale. It’s getting on for 30 years ago now, but I’ve never forgotten the feeling of being out there with him, doing a real job of work together. This one’s for you, Pa. N.