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3 Oct 2014
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Today Poem
by Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion

Today have commissioned a poem exclusively for the programme about Foot and Mouth, from the Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion.

No Entry

Where the lane curved, and sidled side-
ways as if tricked by a water-burst,
and the fawn gravel dwindled into clay
thinning above a fabulous patchwork
of pressed car bodies buried to made a path,
there was this dense, ivy-decked thorn hedge
I could just see over and into the square
Red Tabor had made home for his one sow
slumped and massive, fierce but dingy orange
pineapple skin, embarrassing nude quivers
under a hail of flies - snoozing and snorting
her slow days through between litters.

Then NO ENTRY where the gravel wore out.
A wire barricade. The wind's wiry song.
A rank of plump oil barrels and a sign
with Red's higgledy paint-letters trickling
exhausted, puddling thick at their feet.
I trudged home sorry and out-of-place,
a guilty thing, but another lifetime on
turn back, towards a drizzling screen
of long fires and longer trench-gashes,
timber and tyre smoke-castles crumbling
over the glass, with their barbecue stench
impossible to catch but not to remember.

I am peering over the same thorn hedge,
elbows cushioned on lush pads of ivy-leaf,
and into the square. There is the brown hump
of corrugated iron like a miniature hangar
and dusky hush inside. There is the mud
in stiff crests. There is the slope and farm
with red cramming his whole kitchen window
to glare through me and beyond, over his fields
empty under the tall sky, and further still
over the dales and valley, the chalk plains,
their fells and glens where bright Spring grass
shoots useless under the blind eye of heaven.

Listen - Andrew Motion reads his poem
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