The Lammas Hireling

Ian Duhig

After the fair, I'd still a light heart

and a heavy purse, he struck so cheap.

And cattle doted on him: in his time

mine only dropped heifers, fat as cream.

Yields doubled. I grew fond of company

that knew when to shut up. Then one night,


disturbed from dreams of my dear late wife,

I hunted down her torn voice to his pale form.

Stock-still in the light from the dark lantern,

stark-naked but for one bloody boot of fox-trap,

I knew him a warlock, a cow with leather horns.

To go into the hare gets you muckle sorrow,


the wisdom runs, muckle care. I levelled

and blew the small hour through his heart.

The moon came out. By its yellow witness

I saw him fur over like a stone mossing.

His lovely head thinned. His top lip gathered.

His eyes rose like bread. I carried him


in a sack that grew lighter at every step

and dropped him from a bridge. There was no

splash. Now my herd's elf-shot. I don't dream

but spend my nights casting ball from half-crowns

and my days here. Bless me Father for I have sinned.

It has been an hour since my last confession.