Lizbeth holds
father's bike


while sitting
on her own
waiting for


to return
from the hedge


with bird's eggs
or the shells
of blackbirds


he had seen
once nest there
she is bored


she wants more
and other
things than this


bird watching
or looking
out for those


she wants sex
not nature


study shite
where are you?


she calls out
just coming
he replies


if only
she muses
watching bees


on flowers
the soft buzz


going by


she calls out
where are you?
here I am


he replies
coming out
of a hedge


clutching blue
black speckled
eggshell bits


in his palm
look at that
fine eggshells


he says soft
she looks strained
her eyes scan


the eggshells
in his hand
is that it?


just eggshells?
lucky find
he replies


tucking them
in the black


on the bike
she watches
his fingers


how gently
they arrange
the eggshells


in the bag
can we go
to that hut


on the Downs
that you found?
she asks him


he buckles up
the black bag
I guess so


he replies
it's not big
just an old


shepherd's hut
unused now
is it far?


she asks him
ten minutes
walk away


he replies
we can't ride?
she asks him


too hilly
he replies
her lips pout


and she sighs
only way
he tells her


ok then
she replies
so they ride


to the foot
of the Downs
leaving their


two bicycles
by a tree
and walk up


and along
the pathway
between trees


he thinking
of a nest
he'd seen there


the last time
Robin's nest
he believes


she thinking
of hot sex
in the shed


on the floor
on the old
bath towel she'd


brought from home
she and he
all alone


walks and sniffs


the fresh air
thinking of


robin's eggs
and of them
getting there.

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Lizbeth sits
in the bath
sponges down


and under
her thin arms
over small


but full breasts
soapy suds
hot water


is washing


between thighs
(here she sighs)
wiggles her


two big toes
she wonders
if he would


do such things
she doubts it
not the type


but she's tried
to get him
to have sex


even once
in her room
but mother


came back too
soon and spoilt
her chances


and that time
in his room
with his tank


of old bones
and bird's eggs


and model
hanging down


but no sex
she sponges


along thighs
it is he


rubbing her
his warm lips
planting hot


wet kisses
on the back
of her hand


touch on touch
O too much
if was such.


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Put your finger
along there
Jane said


and she opened
her hands
to form
a kind of cup


and there
was the butterfly
yellowish with white
it opened and closed


its wings
feel the smoothness
she said
I focused


on her palms
the skin
thinking how lucky
the butterfly was


to land there
I gently touched
its wings
with my finger


gently so as not
to make it
fly off
she was intense


gazing at my finger
the wings opening
and closing  
my finger


was a mere
breath away
from touching
her skin


the warmth
of her palms
I leaned in closer
could smell


apples or fresh air
and her dark eyes
turned on me
and I looked back


at the butterfly
and stroked its
wings again
it flapped


and flew off
and I watched it
go passed
her dark hair


her eyes following it
in the air
and I followed
her hair


the dark and straight
the opened necked blouse
the green skirt
isn't it beautiful?


she said
yes very much so
I said
gazing at


the line of her neck
the area
where her hair
and collar


didn't meet
the jawline
and she
was looking up


at the sky
where the butterfly
flittered amongst
nearby flowers


at the foot
of the Downs
so gentle their wings
she said


she imitated
a butterfly
with her hands
the thumbs


hooked together
flapping her hands
out and in
and looked at them


then at me
should I stroke
the wings?
I said


she smiled
her hands slowly
so I did


stroking slowly
and gently
the outer line
of palm


with my finger
and she gazed at me
then at my finger
her small tongue


at the corner
of her mouth
beyond her
the butterfly


flittered off
the white and yellow
as it went away


my finger
moving up and down
then slowly


like the butterfly
a little bit away.

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Lizbeth sucks
her finger


it belongs
to the boy


with eyes closed
each flavour


part salty
(having ate


fish and chips


of ketchup
the red thrills
sucks deeper


whole mouthfuls
of finger
thinking on


that church pew
old dark wood
where they could


but didn't
have made love
she sucks slow


finger length
the painted
finger nail


salty still
each flavour
so distinct


even in
her chosen
warm darkness


of closed eyes
she passes
over both


her knuckles
warm wet skin


so hotly
between thighs
him within.







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You walked with Jane
as you passed by
the water tower
she talked


of the various breeds
of cattle
there were some
for meat


others for milk
some for both
she pointed out
some cows


in a field nearby
and told you
their breed
have you ever seen


a calf born?
she said
you said


not seen anything
like that
let's go to the farm
I think they have a cow


that is due to drop
she said
so you turned up
the drive


that led to the farm
where you worked
some evenings
after school


or at weekends
she walked and talked
you listened
looking at her


dark hair tied back
with a green ribbon
her dark eyes shone
with sunlight


you looked away
at that moment
watching the farm dog
pass by


with its one good eye
(it had bitten you once
and you were wary of it)
a cowman


was at the side
of a shed
clearing out
has the new calf


been born yet?
she asked
he looked at her
then at you


no not yet
he said
but should be soon
want to watch then?


he said
gazing at you
kind of grinning


Jane said
Benedict here
hasn't seen a birth
oh of course


these Londoners
haven't nought
he said
hang about a moment


and we'll go across
he said
you looked at Jane
she was silent


looking around the farm
have you seen
a calf being born?
you asked


many times
she said
ever since
I could stand


I’ve been near
cattle and sheep
I know most breeds
of both


she added softly
after a few minutes
the cowman walked
you both over to the cowshed


over the yard
and opened up
the half door
there she is


he said
waiting to drop
you and Jane
peered over


the half door
at a cow by the wall
looking at you


her tail flapping
away flies
shouldn't be long now
the cowman said


never seen
a calf born then?
he said to you
no not yet


you said
don't suppose
you Londoners
see much of cows


he said smiling
no not at all in London
you said
he looked at Jane


then at the cow
which was standing still
making noises
then moving


then standing still again
I was about 5
when my old dad
took me to see


a calf born
the cowman said
all that blood and stuff
near made me


want to puke
first time
you looked at Jane
her hands


on the door top
her eyes focused
on the cow
she had on blue jeans


and boots
and a yellowy top
with small bulges
of breasts


there she goes
the cowman said
and you gazed
at the cow


and a head appeared
as if by magic
out of the rear
of the cow


and it hung there
then it slid out
and dropped


to the straw filled floor
covered in blood
and stuff
and the cow


licked the calf
and you watched
at the new life


laying there
the cow licking
the legs moving


the head turning
that's how it is
the cowman said
easy one that


and you moved closer
to Jane
smelling her scent
her warmth near you


her arm next to yours
what will you call it?
Jane asked
don't know yet


the cowman said
might call it Benedict
if it's a bull calf
and Jane


if it's a heifer
he smiled at you both
and opened up
the lower door


and went in
then closed it up again
there you are
she said


now you've seen
a calf born
you nodded
and you walked back


out of the yard
and up the drive
let's go back to my house
she said


Mum'll give us
tea and cake
and we can tell her
about the calf 


you said
walking beside her
sensing her nearness


her hand close to yours

you wanting to hold it
but not doing so
walking there


beneath the sun's
warmth and glow.

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Lizbeth lies on her bed, hands behind her head, staring at the ceiling. All that way out to the darn farm cottage to see Benedict and not even a kiss. All that showing of skulls and bones and egg shells, and where his father had given him a parch of earth to grow stuff, but not a single hint of a kiss or cuddle. She closes her eyes. His double bed was there, the room with just him and her, his mother downstairs, his father at work, his siblings out playing in the fields or some place, and he talked about birds and such. She had put on her best black short skirt, white blouse, and clean underwear just for him, and did he notice? Not one jot. She even waited sitting on his bed while went downstairs to ask about lunch for her, hinting maybe, might set him going, her sitting there legs crossed, skirt risen up. He came up the stairs in bounds and she thought, here he comes for it, and all he said was: cheese or ham sandwiches? She said cheese. Off he went again. She even bounced on the bed to see how the springs were. Not to good. He had a model Spitfire hanging from the ceiling in his room. There was a fish tank full of bones and skulls and birds eggs. She imagines how it could have been. He coming upstairs with the sandwiches, seeing her there on his bed, her skirt risen up, showing thigh...but no, she hates pretending. He brought the cheese sandwiches up and sat next to her on the bed and talked about the work he did on the farm across the way. He didn't seem to notice her thighs. She ate the sandwiches, looked at him as he talked on about maybe one day being a cowman and such. If only he had, she muses, opening her eyes, looking at her untidy bedroom, LPs on the floor, a box record player, soiled linen(as her mother called it), a small plate, a cup. If he had only hinted at it, she muses, just put a hand on her thigh, touched her hand, said he loved her short black skirt, but no, not a word about it. She had ridden all that way on her bike to see him and hoped that he might this time, but no; all she got was cheese sandwiches and a cup of tea(downstairs), and his mother asking her questions about her father and mother and work. Benedict smiling and looking at her, then his mother, then her again. Still a virgin. She can't say she hasn't tried to lose it. She'd read somewhere that  King Henry VII's mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, had him when she  was thirteen years old. How old was she when she had sex? Lizbeth muses. She can hear her mother downstairs banging away with pots and pans. A bad mood day. She had moaned at Lizbeth when she came in from her bike ride to see Benedict. Room untidy, clothes everywhere, tidy up. Words words. What if he had though? She thinks, turning on her side looking at the wall, what if they had done it? She smiles. What if they had on his double bed, she laying there seeing the Spitfire above the bed moving overhead, him entering her, she lying there, hands around him, eyes open or closed, looking at him, the hair, the quiff moving. But he didn't. She runs a finger down the wall. But what if he had though? another voice in her head asks her, what then? She thinks on it, running a finger down the wall again. She didn't know. She remembered asking the girl at school about it. What's it like? She had asked her. What's what like? The girl had replied, grinning. You know, sex? The girl had told her. Detailed each aspect. But to her now, it was all theory. How did she know without doing it? The girl could have been all talk. And that thing about self relief was yuk. She turns back on her back, the ceiling is still there boring her. But it wasn't just a fact of losing her virginity, it had to be with him, not just any boy. She wanted it to be with someone she liked and someone whom she would remember years to come. She knew there were boys in her class at school who probably would if they could(doubts with some) but that wasn't it. He was a hard fish to catch. Was that the phrase? She'd tried four times, and nothing. Even in the small village church he'd said no. That would have been memorable, even if the church benches were rather hard to lay on and it wouldn't have been that comfortable to do it, at least it would have been done and with him. But he hasn't and nor has she. She wonders what would have happened if they had and someone came into the church at that moment and found them at it? Especially some one like her mother or older or some old dear who had a heart attack. Then there was this room, not long ago. She had actually got him here and still no joy. Her mother had been out shopping, the room to themselves, silence, bed. Nothing. Except frustration on her part. In the corner of her bedroom, up on the ceiling is a spider. Black, big bellied. A web in the corner. It waiting. She hates spiders. What if came down in the night? She watches it, making sure it doesn't go anywhere. She ought to hammer it with her slipper. But she doesn't. She closes her eyes. She came that close to doing it. If only. But if onlys are fictions, she muses, turning on her side and opening her eyes. The room bores. The untidiness is part of who she is. And if they had, would she have a kid at fourteen? What then? Maybe she would call him Henry or Henrietta if it was a girl. No she didn’t like that name. But they didn't, so names don't matter. Maybe next time, she thinks, maybe next time he may. Tomorrow is there just another hopeful day.

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Jane opened her hands
and the butterfly
fluttered off


across the grass
and you watched
and she told you


what its name was
and its colouring
but you


were more focused
on her hands
the fingers held so


as if Michaelangelo
might have
painted them


in a creative urge
to pin down
an example


of beauty
and as her voice
spoke on


you saw the hands
come together
and embrace


and caress
each other
as you both walked


along the lane
high hedges


first this finger pointed
then that
gesturing towards


this flower
then that
names came


and colouring
and her voice sang
as she talked


the words
being flung
in the air


like a juggler's balls
and you reached out
to catch each word


and place
its meaning
but her eyes


caught you
the colour
the brightness


and fires flamed there
and they grow
only here


she said
so I’ve read
her words said


and the lips parted
just to allow
words to go


like busy bees
to work
and the glimpse


of teeth and tongue
and what do you think?
she said


beautiful stuff
you replied
not quite


the words
you wished for
but which came


like lazy boy's
to school
they are


she said smiling
her hands parting
one reaching


for yours
O that
may have been Heaven


for all you knew
a bright
sun-blessed smile

out of the blue.

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There was fresh flowers
on the grave
that Jane showed you
outside the small church  


the sun was warm
and cows
were just over
the hedge surrounding


you could hear them
munching the grass
and trotting by
unconcerned by death


or the symbols
of death
and Jane said
the tractor fell


on top of him
the other month
you stared
at the flowers laid there


bright in the sunlight
a small glass vase
holding a smaller bunch


child picked maybe
they'll have to
move out now
that he's dead


it being
a tied cottage
she said
and you could see


the sadness
in her features
the tearful eyes
mouth slightly open


words like
broken china pieces
where will they go
the mother and children?


you asked
the local council
will house them
I expect


she said
she gazed at the grave
and bent
and picked up


a small flower
from the nearby grass
and laid it
by the other flowers


God bless him
in His peace
she said softly
the cows


stilled munch
over the hedge
a bird called
from the hedgerow


you looked at her
standing there
a blue ribbon
in her dark hair


her green top
and black skirt
knee length
sad end


you said
one of the dangers
of farming


she said quietly
she moved away
and you followed
and she held out a hand


and you took it
and went
into the small church
and sat


in one of the pews
inside and stared
at the stained glass windows
sunlight pouring in


like liquid gold
the flagstone floor
and pew end


at the front
and her hand
still held yours


blood pumping
along arteries
life and living


and she and you
and outside
he sleeping
in his God's peace


and the cows
munching the grass
and birds calling
from hedgerows


and sky
and always
with you
the eternal why.

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She crosses fields to find him,
passing cows, over low fences,
along dust tracks. He's probably
at the farm, his mother said, he


works there after school some
days and at week ends if he has
time to spare, so she goes there,
her bike parked by the cottage


wall, on foot, treading her way,
warm morning, Saturday. He
sees her coming through the farm,
dressed in jeans, blouse and boots,


her red hair tied in a bunch, hands
in her pockets, mouth chewing gum.
Farm hands view her a she passes,
their eyes feeding on her swaying


behind, her tiny tits, not knowing
13 years had scarcely gone, then
turn away, back to their work of
milking cows or weighing milk


or cleaning cow sheds of shit and
straw. Your mother said I'd find
you here, Lizbeth says, eyeing
him, his face and eyes and the


way he stands. He views her,
sensing her non-countryside ways,
a towny, others'd say. Just doing
a bit, he says, got hay bales to


stack, tidy and lay. Can I help?
she says, I’ve nothing much to do?
If you like, he says, and walks
along to the barn and she follows,


swaying her hips, holding her
head to one side. He shows her
the hay bales, where they need
to be and how to stack. It smells


in here, she says, heat of hay,
he says, gets stuffy. She runs a hand
over the nearest bales. Soft enough,
she says, looking at him, her eyes


focusing, sniffing the air. Soft enough
for what? He says. To lay on, cuddle
on, she say softly. Best not, he says,
others may come. Not up there, she


says, pointing to a higher place above
their heads, there we'd not been seen.
Best not, he says, they want me for
work not to laze or shirk. She pouts


her lips, walks about the barn, touching
with her fingers, running palms over
the bales. Just a little while, she says,
unbuttoning her blouse, needn't be long,


fingers slowly working the buttons.
There's mice and rats about, he says,
could be anywhere in here. She pauses,
her fingers still, her eyes enlarging.


Here? she asks. He nods, seen them
about, a few hours ago. She buttons
up her blouse, gazing around. Shame,
she says, wanted to, you know, here


in the quiet, us alone. He stands and
gazes, takes in her slim frame, her eyes,
her hands holding each other and
squeezing. Another time maybe, she


says, some other place, somewhere
that's quiet, where we'd not be disturbed.
He nods, viewing her small breasts
tidied away, at least for the day, like


small babes put to bed, and tucked
up safe and sound. She kisses his cheek,
touches his arm, see you, she says softly,
see you around, and she walks way,


her swaying behind, tight in her jeans,
walking through dust and hay, see you,
she says, blowing a kiss, another day.

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