I watch, from Tesco’s rooftop car park, a flock

of fluttering pigeons curve over what was

the cattle market with its echoing pens,

another car park now. From Cow Lane Bridge,

I watched, as a schoolboy, one winter

when the canal was frozen deep, a cow –

being herded to the nearby abattoir –

slide from the towpath, become trapped between

the ice and the quay, her fearful eyes wide,

her bellowing silencing the gathered crowd.

The drovers cursed her, goaded her, pulled her free

by her horns, and urged her on for slaughter.

A sheltered life to remember that…




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