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13 March 2018updated 24 Jun 2021 12:25pm

Hineni

The NS Poem: Hineni.

By Craig Raine

Here in this hospital bed,
I forage for firewood,

stooped, like one of the elders,
among the boulders,

dusty big toes calloused
where my sandals work loose.

I am here to sacrifice
a childhood. It is the price,

the pyre that death commands.
So with these tremulous hands,

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I arrange my memory hoard:
toy soldiers on skateboards,

jigsaw pieces
like tortoises,

flat new-born terrapins,
like a slew of leaves the wind blew in,

a grey prep-school dressing gown,
too big, a hand-me-down,

braided, like the fugue of a plait,
a Gunn and Moore cricket bat

like a banana, carved,
an elegant curve

of yellow
willow,

dried blood
from a nose bleed,

Cadbury’s buttons, dark on the floor,
my pet rabbit’s demure ears,

soothed and smoothed until
they’re soft as a leather finger stall.

No sign now of the ram I sought,
its uncoiled mainspring caught

in a bush of thorns,
rear hoof lifted to free its horns.

This article appears in the 07 Mar 2018 issue of the New Statesman, The new cold war