Baby Forgetting

I know you will forget

little one

how you needed me to turn the teat

towards your mouth

for you to suck.

As you knew what to do

but not how

I steered you under your mother

while she moaned

in protest and relief.


Your divided loyalties

will heal, baby thing

though now you bleat

and rise when I approach,

open the gate

and lure your mother

across the yard

skipping away from her lunges

until I can trick her

into the holding pen.


You will no longer accept

my cradling arms

as I lift and carry you

to the side of the handling crate

where your mother stamps

and shakes

until I nudge you forward

with an arm round your rear

and a hand guiding your head

blind on to one teat

and another.


I will stay with you

pressed to my chest

my head on your mother’s

matted flank

until you are done,

you scrap,

lose body cracking tension

from your muscles

withdraw groggily

from withered flaps

to digest trembling.


My knees are cold,

little heifer,

from kneeling in frozen muck

the muscles in my arm ache

with holding you into

this noisome hollow

my back just tweaked

but your tail wags

contentedly along

the arm I’ve wrapped

round your arse

and your red curls

smell like peatsmoke.