You’re the pent-up lady of the colonial station and I am your farmhand, precarious hayseed dangling from my lip, the ill-mannered hooligan folding you like scone dough over the smouldering coal range in the musterer’s hut. Because it is your preference I have not wasted time on tenderising. You sputter and waver, a wick wet with kerosene. Like a good man, keen, I mercilessly dirty the butcher’s blade at my belt. Later you borrow my knife to carve lumpen lovehearts into the bunks’ greasy slats. If you could really kill you’d mount me as a trophy in your dining hall. Instead you take a needle to my neckerchief, apply prissy embroidery proclaiming wives want me and fish fear me. When I tickle trout from the silty creek to sate you on bloodless flesh, we cannot help measuring our grievances to establish whose is bigger. I have no real desire to wound you but I could take you down a peg or two. So ask me not for whom the mountain-oysters toll… Shepherdess, cocking your crook, you bad-bitch Bo-Peep, I am aware that in your breeder fantasies you would replace me with any red-faced leather-fingered young farmer of the year – eyes glazed with toil, his act perfunctory and absent-minded as a ram’s, testes swinging like tongueless bells pealing strenuously for thee. They say the old station-holders used to castrate lambs to wethers with their teeth – isn’t that your area of interest? Hard men rousing on the muster posing the evergreen question: to spit or swallow? But think how tender those shepherds must have been with their incisive surgery – the cutting kiss – and all that bleating. Can you even believe the care I take when care is asked of me? Yet I only work for you as a man alone, butch, bullish. Someone stone, stinking of smoke, lanolin and oilskin; roughshod; wielding a hoofpick for the lambsblood crusted under my bitten hangnails; callused to the soul. My utility is singularly in hardness, the fool gored up to the hilt to prove your own honed steel to yourself. I’m a tool. If you could bear to comprehend my gentle nature, this would be a real affair. Instead I pack my softness down like snow. Still, the longer this goes on, the more my insides go to pulp, fizzy as fermented wild apples. Soon it will all seep out and you will have to choose a sunset to ride into. For now, saddle up. Once we have obliterated each other again, come out beyond the long drop. On one knee I’ll offer up my only other secret: let me show you how I make the moon shine.
This poem was originally published in Meat Lovers by Rebecca Hawkes (Auckland University Press, 2022). You can purchase it directly from the Auckland University Press website.
Featured image courtesy of author and the New Zealand Herald.