for Christine

The arrogance of youth. We never thought

of danger, not for us! The day was fair,

the sea was kind, the sky was wide, the path

was firm, and we were keen as Colman’s mustard.

The cliff was safe. There was no other traffic

nor wicked wind to sweep us to our doom

and twenty miles was no impediment

since we had twenty years of health and strength.


A corner and the bull was there before us

his blank black steady stare a subtle threat

massive, stagnant, steaming and his jaws

were heavy with anticipatory drool.

We stopped. I was the leader. Lucky you!

I would be first to fall; you’d have a chance.

‘What shall we do?’ you whimpered. I was stoic

or something. I remembered how to act.


‘We stand stock still and look him in the eye.’

I’d heard it somewhere, hoped that it was true

and so began the staring competition

the beast and me. I never knew how long

we locked horns. No-one counted. No-one cared

but, finally, he tired of us and turned

around, showing his backside in contempt

and ambled off as if he didn’t care.


You must have thought me something of a hero.

To be afraid is wise, and I was foolish.

If now I met a bull upon my way

I’d show him more respect. Perhaps I’d bow,

prostrate myself, regard him as an equal.

I don’t know what he thought of me. A challenge,

a threat, or just another pointless human

not worthy of attention or of scorn?

First published in Reach Poetry






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