What Matters is the Hiss of Powder



The first weekend of May

Clear slate sky

Mulch of leaves deaden footfalls

Khaki shadows make mud

Tempt the game with a trail of barley

Slither into tattered shoots:

Maimai made of autumn produce.



The first soft splash – an explosion

Wrought steel and wood used to scatter

Feathers fly like split down duvets

The stain of red on brown

Plumes of black smoke fill the slate

Muting keening laments

The pond splattered pink.



Charcoal embers crackle

Vinegar draws the blood out

Poison lead inside the breast

Pluck bruised petals

Tear the sinews aside

Oozing sludge left behind

The game of feather secretes life



The lacrimal glands secrete fluid

The taste seems stolen,

The hands stained.

What matters is the hiss of powder

Sluicing through the air like the twang of acid rain.

What matters is the salt will carve your cheeks

Like your guns carve their wings.


by Lucy Brownlee

St Andrews College