The Early History of Spence Broughton | Rob Hindle

Place of water and wet earth,
stink of beets and cabbages.
There are fields made here
that sink each winter in an inland sea.
There is occasional, terrible tragedy.

Broughton farms his land on Martin Moor,
a drained, grey square, drier than those
by Timberland Delph or Dales Head Dike,
drier than Dogdyke and Witham Fields.
But the wind blows every day,
watering his eyes, making him bent
as an old tree.

Once, ploughing with his son,
he found a rabbit skull, battered,
yellow, crammed with soil.
The boy took it home and washed it,
carried it for luck in his pocket.

Later it was found in the Martin drain,
jaws and eye holes snagged with weed.
It was making a hole in the cloth, the boy said,
his fingers’ memory wrapped still
round the hard, cold bone-cage.

From The Purging of Spence Broughton, a Highwayman (Longbarrow Press, 2009). Click here to visit the project site. Listen to Rob Hindle reading this poem: