Pratibha Castle – Fallow

Pratibha Castle LEP&W Sept-Oct V2 2022

Download PDF Here Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Two Sept-October 2022. 

Fallow, poem by Pratibha Castle 


Fleur pegs laundry on the line,
sheets and shifts, long johns
floppy as a sot

her own petticoat-plump skirt
tucked up under a ragged shawl,
a crossover harness for a fractured heart.

Mallards waddle through the yard,
bodyguards to a duck whose head
last spring one jumped on
while the other scored.

In winter months
their plumage mutes, fervour
stifled as a seed in slush.

That night, beside the fire,
Fleur coddles an orphan lamb,
comforts its raggedy bleat
with tepid cow’s milk
and a rubber teat,
the new-born’s pull a pulse
her calloused hands regret.

Jacques, in a creaking rocker
sucks at the stem of his tarry briar,
its shallow bowl simmering
with throttled words and
embers of contrition.

Fleur rubs her back, takes
comfort from the crackle-hiss
of flames’ cavorting gossip
churning kitchen tales
in the couple’s silence.

Her belly feigns bounty,
swollen as Rugosa Rosa hips
on the bush beyond the byre.

© Pratibha Castle

Pratibha Castle’s award-winning debut pamphlet A Triptych of Birds and A Few Loose Feathers (Hedgehog Poetry Press) was published in 2022. A retired holistic therapist and workshop facilitator of women’s retreats, and a singer, she studied creative writing at the University of Chichester. Published widely in print and online including Agenda, Blue Nib, Fragmented Voices, Friday Poem, High Window, Honest Ulsterman, Ink Sweat & Tears, London Grip and One Hand Clapping, her work has been highly commended and long-listed in various competitions including Bridport Prize and Welsh Poetry Competition, Binsted Arts, Storytown, Sentinel Literary Journal, Gloucestershire Poetry Society. A regular reader for The Poetry Place, West Wilts Radio, her second book, published by Hedgehog Poetry, is forthcoming later this year. Born in Ireland, she lives on the south coast of England.

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