forget about hands and knees–
his chest is on the ground. he is
flattening himself like sourdough naan
as men in hats stand sentinel and impatient.
this procedure takes
he is heaving his bones–elbows bear
the weight of stomach, ribcage, legs for
the distance of one hundred and fifty
yards. he has gone past the flogging station
in the middle of the sunlit lane–
he is a stick-insect with a stick-like body.
his outstretched arms caress the earth on command.
he watches his sweat
form into pools on darkened soil.
the standing men are
unaccustomed to the hot weather.
it has made their faces rosy-cheeked.
he feels a growing intimacy with their bootsoles
as they stare him in the face.
he is joining the ranks of his fellow stick-men;
they are the jewel in the Crown–
the standers divide up between them
a flag, of colours emerald, citrine, and quartz.
in the ghost of Miss Sherwood’s bicycle tracks,
he is left to choke on the dust.
Words by Claire Ion.