before the door opens and the pony crashes in with hoof-dirt and flicky
muzzle. You ordered eggs and toast but Pony’s got the order wrong. You
don’t feel like complaining, so you take the chomped grass and lay out
its clumpy wet mass on the desk. There’s clover in there, but you don’t
feel lucky. You say, Thank you, Pony. I love your ragged mane and old crock
teeth. And you take your time with the grass breakfast. You think, in
hard times you might have to eat grass and clover. There may be a time
for learning how to graze, to pluck sweet halms from the fields and work
them with green teeth; to be a cud-chewer, adept at regurgitation and
infinitely patient with the slowness of cellulose. You might become a
ruminant at last on the empty, philosophical hills.
About this poem
This poem was included in Best Scottish Poems 2016. Best Scottish Poems is an online publication, consisting of 20 poems chosen by a different editor each year, with comments by the editor and poets. It provides a personal overview of a year of Scottish poetry. The editor in 2016 was Catherine Lockerbie.
This was another new voice which enthralled me. Em Strang, throughout this collection as the title suggests, powerfully and peculiarly evokes the natural world, melding and metamorphosing with the human world – a deer hind cooks supper for her boorish macho husband of a stag, a wolf lies frozen at dawn. ‘A Poem before Breakfast’ shows all of her skills – brilliantly inventive, alive to ecology, a strange clash of the animal and human rendered with funny, philosophical, prophetic depth – and perfect and alluring poetic cadence.
What does it mean to be human in the 21st century, entangled as we are in an era of climate change, toxic cultural narratives and the pathology of dualistic thinking? How can we unlearn the story of separation from others? Pony trotted into my bodymind to encourage me to keep asking these questions, to dig deeper, as well as to remind me of the beauty and validity of alternative ways of seeing and being in the world.