Last Night She Saw Badgers

by Adam Horovitz

Last Night She Saw Badgers

He stands at the school gate

hunched and trembling

like a tree at winter’s rise.


The air is glue. I wade to him, each step

taking all of my twelve years.

He is grey as the rope we found in Orkney,


coiled and faded on the cliffs of Ronaldsay,

worn out with hoping for the rescue

that would never come.


The car is waiting.

We must go to London now, he says.

Death waits in the car, unspeaking.


I too am silent. The blood rushing

in my ears like howling trees

is noise enough for me.


I do not grasp the journey.

It is over in moments.

I am contracting time to reach my mother


in her sad bed in the stale ward

where my two plastic Star Wars toys

stand against the coming dark.


Too long I have waited in the deathly quiet

of the Vicar’s house, unspeaking, ungrateful,

mapping out how I will run away to London.


Too long without news and contact,

the dreams I’d shared with her as a child

rising again like tides too urgent


for the moon to pull them back.

Last night she saw badgers, he tells me

as we walk into the hospital.


I remember walking with her to see a badger’s sett

on the other side of the valley, the orderly piles of dung,

the cowslips, the dusk.


Last night she saw badgers at the end of her bed.

© Adam Horovitz