The Dog Days, The Dog Days
Heber stepped out of the shade in his brown cap and waistcoat
prodding a stick at some bullocks that we couldn’t see for the hedge
until two by three and four they stumbled over the crumbly mud
and their hooves clocked slipperily on the grey tarmac.
Coom on an’ ‘elp me lead ‘em yon, sither! he called above them,
so we ran across and stretched our arms out and slapped the bullocks’
black and white haunches and hustled them up the dazzling green lane,
while Heber strode achily up to the gate and bumped it open
over the grass, and the bullocks shunted each other
into the air-raid shelter field. Heber was anxious and red in the cheeks
and the sweat smelt sharp in his unbuttoned shirt
as he fingered some sixpences into our hands.
And one afternoon we found big Bruce Cresswell (whose mum
drove a Mini and dad a Rover and lived in a two-chimneyed house
on the High Street) sprawling on the top of the shelter, smoking.
Blue flies were settling on the hot concrete and swivelling
and rubbing their legs. Bruce stubbed his cigarette out on a frog
and it scorched with no sound, but I hear it now.
from Smiths Knoll 50