The Equinox Separation

Not one of the men looked back.
Gulls resettled on the ploughed field
like thrown chainmail, two drunk fenceposts
black splinters in a whorl. Numb cheeks
stretched taut as muslins in the March sleet,
drawing thin whey from nose and squinting eyes.
God knows there were no tears.

Up then, to where the rich loam thinned
and granite shouldered into cruel weather.
They dropped her body where a last rowan
braced its roots under an icy stream. The old man,
gnarled as windblown wood himself,
prised open a watch to gauge the grey noon.

A nod. Younger muscle spat on hands,
hefted picks and mattocks
and cracked the mountain on his word.
The first rocks splintered bone and brought
the girl from blank peace to her brief coda,
only to endure again a loop of the boy’s mute white fear
as the sinkstone was strapped around his leg
then a soft plash in the loch at midnight.

Broken on symmetry’s spine – one plumbed free
in dark peat water; one left for the kites
and shifting wind – they are condemned
to an elemental solitude.

The Equinox Separation was shortlisted in Live Canon’s International Poetry Competition 2012, and published in their anthology.