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Poetry / Imogen Cooper

‘Big is Born’, ‘Big in the Forest’, &
‘Big Gets a Surprise’

Issue 2. June 21, 2021

It takes hours, shielded by trees
claws rooted in dirt. Jaws crack biting
bloody hearts from stones, pulling earthworms
from homes as they slept, unaware of the wolves.
Last guttural gush, and night-clouds 
part for the moon. She swells and beams.
The watch is through, and six drunk cubs
tussle blind for the warmest spot of fur.
Half a dozen, brazen. The perfect pack.
It’s not until the milk’s long gone
and the places claimed
that a seventh stirs, seed-small, amongst the scrum. 
A runt. Such luck. The moon turns her gaze
and Big shivers, willing the distant dawn.

They grow 
as wildflowers pepper
the path, knowing nothing
but to raise their heads
above earth. Interminable
days drawl in lilting tones, their call
a steady lapping tongue 
on the backs of babes. 
Skip step down the no-school trail 
and the Pack breaks off at a fork. 
Their yowls of laughter
drown Big’s cry. Less fun
is Cowboys and Indians 
for one, but Big persists,
spitting sour mouthfuls palpable
tang of absence into the ground. 
With sundown comes the 
tetchy stepping of twigs, quick-shuffled
dance before a hunt. Crows
flap, agitated, when the Pack sets off
and away yap scamper. 
Big shouts into the dust
and a six-strong song 
echoes: Too small, too small. 
In Big’s little dirt-smell den
there is no-one. 
There’s solace in the 
boggy funk before a storm, 
of doors gummed shut. Through
one small crack, vessels swell
in a black-eye sky
groaning with the weight of thunder. 

Lift on three: head-rush, the thrust
of small hands in their dozens. Knees 
shuffle, quick, locking for those 
weak with thoughts of the wolf. 
Last heave, and a great metal
pot stands before them. 
Bones rattle in broth. Not long,
whispers rise, curled in steam. 
Hot shroud of death-stench -
what wolf can resist 
such a feast? Teeth grit as
he clings to it. Fingers
wring tight, tentative mouths 
start to sing as he leans...
Sniff one drop, slip, balance lost, and 

Imogen Cooper is 24 and lives in Shropshire. She is currently studying towards an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham.

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