Sheila Aldous

We Walk the Way of Clay

We walk the way of clay.
Sink into the history of heavy horses
in the mud. We strain to listen.
Marvel at the price of peace, so cheap
for anyone who wants it.
You tell me we are this mud.

It grabs us with heavy feet as every step drags us in
and we are moulded in its likeness, shaped to step lightly off.
We learn to pick our way through.

You tell me to listen, that I will hear
the snort and tremble, squelch and neigh
of troubled souls who pulled the carts.
I see the writing on the page
carved by swans, egrets, oystercatchers.

You tell how those men of clay reached
the bridge to pay their toll. How labour’s price
wrote their names. I feel your hands, veined
yet soft, steady me on shale-green ground
so I do not slip into the shoreline whisper.

Gulls disturb this bond between us.
I ask, How far to Newton Abbot?

Your answer’s lost in the hug of wind,
in the slam and moan that lifts us
off our feet as the sky above cries.
I read your lips, but it doesn’t matter
because we are here.

Sheila Aldous has an MA in Creative Writing. She lives in Devon by the River Teign where
the forever changing scene of tides and nature, the boating com-munity and people all bring delight and inspiration. She writes short stories and poetry and won the Yeovil Poetry Prize 2016 and 3rd prize in the [local] Poetry Teignmouth Competition 2017. She has been published in Acumen, Orbis, Obsessed with Pipework, The Broadsheet and Pzazz. Her first
collection was published by Indigo Dreams in 2018.