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