“animal husbandry” by Sue Woodward

Animal Husbandryat sunrise the cows arrive
in single file
we fetch milk in a jug
and bread hot from the oven

the goats wait at the first gate
haughty and impatient
we, farmers by proxy,
do not let them through

beyond and against a vast canvas,
giant irrigation machines
pterosaurs with wings outstretched,
taxi over the rough terrain
stopping short of take off

two more gates
and we are in the wilderness
free from agriculture
and animal husbandry
on the outermost fence
a dark shape hangs
spread-eagled on the wire
the body of a baboon
upside down, crucified,
warning of our dominion


Sue Woodward has previously published in South African literary magazines under her birth name of Susan Mahoney. She lives in Muizenberg and regularly walks along the Zandvlei estuary, which is the subject of many of her poems.

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