Beyond the garden boundary,
past the halo of the terrace lights,
the undergrowth is shaking
to the soft grunts of a cinghiale.
I can’t see him but I know he’s there.
Along the night-sweat lane
near the house with the rusted vines
big white dogs are sounding off,
barking their ignorance
into the night, over and over.
I could walk out in the grass
to the edge of the rustling dark,
sure the boar would batter away
wary of my man-stink
and the shotgun I might carry.
But we play this stand off,
me here, the boar in the bushes,
for we each know our place
and no good thing can come
from forcing a meeting.
And what if it isn’t a boar
rattling unseen in the canes?
Perhaps it’s something else
pulling down the green leaves,
tearing up the teeming soil?
So I stay by the moth-speckled lights
for fear of unknowable things –
not the bristly pig in the bush
with his pinhole eyes, rooty tusks,
stupidly dainty on cloven heels.
That shape though: the bulk of a boar,
of a high and hump-backed hill,
of a stoop-shouldered sky –
awful in its absence and presence –
that shape is waiting for me,
aware one day I’ll have no choice
but to push into the shadows
and find the beast shaking
at a persimmon tree
knowing the fruit must surely fall.
First published in Riptide Journal issue no.12 ‘Cradle to the Grave’.
“I have a share in a small house in central Italy and I’ve had the pleasure of spending time there over the years. The house nestles in the Maiella mountains – an offshoot of the Apennines. It’s a wild and rugged area with wolves, black bears and wild boar – cinghiali. This poem is on the face of it an encounter with a wild boar. However when I wrote it I’d not long been diagnosed with ‘early-onset’ Parkinson’s disease. A disease that is progressive and incurable. A movement disorder initially, and once known as the Shaking Palsy, it gradually cripples its sufferers. And that’s really what this poem is about.
“My next poetry collection is to be published by Sea Crow Press in February next year and is entitled Shaking The Persimmon Tree – the title taken loosely from this poem.
“Oh, and I should say that the persimmon in Greek mythology was the food of the gods, and a candidate for the mysterious fruit to which the lotus eaters succumbed, leaving them listless and apathetic. It’s a fruit which ripens late in the year hanging on bare branches when the leaves have been stripped by autumn weather. So no shortage of metaphors there then!”
Marc Woodward lives in Devon, England. His writing, which often reflects his rural environment, has been widely published in poetry journals and anthologies.
He was shortlisted for the 2018 Bridport Prize and commended for both the 2020 Aesthetica Creative Writing Award and the Acumen International Poetry competition.
He is also an accomplished musician who has performed and taught internationally.
His collections include A Fright of Jays (Maquette Press, 2015), Hide Songs (Green Bottle Press, 2018), and The Tin Lodes written in collaboration with well known poet and English professor Andy Brown (Indigo Dreams, 2020).
His new collection Shaking The Persimmon Tree will be published by Sea Crow Press in early 2022.
He can be found at www.marcwoodwardpoetry.blogspot.com