‘The Belgian Blue’ in The Moth

Since 2010 The Moth has been publishing poetry and short fiction by established and emerging writers. The quarterly print magazine has featured work by Sara Baume, Billy Collins and Sinead Morrissey to name a few. It is also home to the €10,000 Moth Poetry Prize. Read my story ‘The Belgian Blue’ in Issue 24, Spring 2016.

Version 2

The bull was lying in the track that led to Innes’s gate. All neck and shoulders, it faced out to sea with its legs turned under its chest. Rain slanted before the truck’s headlights, the bull’s head in the full glare of the beams – its ear, temple and muzzle lit yellow. Innes rolled his window down. ‘Shoo, shoo!’ he shouted. As the engine idled, its eyes drifted towards the rumbling and then back to the marsh thistle in the ditch. Innes got out. He stood in the lee of the barn with his hood up, looking at the bulk of the thing. Surely a good tonne and a half. He wanted in to the house, wanted to make his dinner and go to bed, and here was this bull at his barn wall for the third time this week, the hurdles he’d fixed across the lane before going to work popped from the pins and fallen over.

A good strike to the haunches. That was how Boar Campbell reckoned you got a bull moving. Innes unhooked the truck’s cover and rummaged among the cable reels and drill boxes for some conduit. Back around the front, he stared into the void his shadow left before the headlights – the way the bull’s shoulders scarped into the gloom. He turned the plastic pipe in his hands, playing with his grip. He listened to rain dash the barn’s tin roof and to the sea – somewhere below, unseen in the bay. He got back in the cab, threw the conduit in the footwell, and revved the engine. ‘SHOO!’ he shouted, and the head, which seemed at once to float and sink, turned to take in the dark beyond the fence. Innes slammed the truck in reverse and watched in the rear-view as ground and ditch weaved in a faint white light. He left the truck by the field, cursing Mackenzie as he squeezed himself between bull and hurdles – the huge head at his groin, and wider than his own hips – and snibbed the gate. He only hoped it would be gone by morning when he went to collect his girls[…]