by Carol Alexander

Passing the old Tudor place in its long green veil,
we pushed the bikes and paused by the thin pond
emptied now of carp, veined by straggling weeds.

Just here the rabbits came in throngs to feed
until the mad boy shot at them, unhinged

by the father in his military clothes, gin haze
empurpling the dark eyes, dropping down hard
on the boy with his purloined gun, trembling.

The beatings and the shouts and bleeding grass
and the sin of the boy mustered out by rage:

under the wild ivy young children shook with sobs
for the ritual slaughter, fingers tangled in green foil,
watching the boy bury rabbits under his father's gaze.

Ivy shields the crumbling brick, pulling it down,
wearing mortar, loosening what was hard and fast--
patrimony--while it covers the shocked, peering eyes

and the road hard by is thickly ridged and scarred
like proud flesh, like echoes of terror down the years.

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