What is this?" he went on now, spearing an unfortunate object on a fork and raising it to eye level. "This... this... thing?" "A parsnip?" Jem suggested. "A parsnip planted in Satan's own garden." said Will. He glanced about. "I don't suppose there's a dog I could feed it to." "There don't seem to be any pets about," Jem""who loved all animals, even the inglorious and ill-tempered Church""observed. "Probably all poisoned by parsnips," said Will.
What is this?' he went on now, spearing an unfortunate object on a fork and raising it to eye level. 'This... this... thing?' 'A parsnip?' Jem suggested. 'A parsnip planted in Satan's own garden.' said Will. He glanced about. 'I don't suppose there's a dog I could feed it to.' 'There don't seem to be any pets about, ' Jem-who loved all animals, even the inglorious and ill-tempered Church-observed. 'Probably all poisoned by parsnips, ' said Will.
Now driving in a wild frieze of headlong horses with eyes walled and teeth cropped and naked riders with clusters of arrows clenched in their jaws and their shields winking in the dust and pu the far side of the ruined ranks in a piping of boneflutes and dropping down off the sides of their mounts with one heel hung in the withers strap and their short bows flexing beneath the outstretched necks of the ponies until they had circled the company and cut their ranks in two and then rising up again like funhouse figures, some with nightmare faces painted on their breasts, riding down the unhorsed Saxons and spearing and clubbing them and leaping from their mounts with knives and running about on the ground with a peculiar bandylegged trot like creatures driven to alien forms of locomotion and stripping the clothes from the dead and seizing them up by the hair and passing their blades about the skulls of the living and the dead alike and snatching aloft the bloody wigs and hacking and chopping at the naked bodies, ripping off limbs, head, gutting the strange white torsos and holding up great handfuls of viscera, genitals, some of the savages so slathered up with gore they might have rolled in it like dogs and some who fell upon the dying and sodomized them with loud cries to their fellows.
Birds of the Western Front Your mess-tin cover's lost. Kestrels hover above the shelling. They don't turn a feather when hunting-ground explodes in yellow earth, flickering star-shells and flares from the Revelation of St John. You look away from artillery lobbing roar and suck and snap against one corner of a thicket to the partridge of the war zone making its nest in shattered clods. History floods into subsoil to be blown apart. You cling to the hard dry stars of observation. How you survive. They were all at it: Orchids of the Crimea nature notes from the trench leaving everything unsaid - hell's cauldron with souls pushed in, demons stoking flames beneath - for the pink-flecked wings of a chaffinch flashed like mediaeval glass. You replace gangrene and gas mask with a dream of alchemy: language of the birds translating human earth to abstract and divine. While machine-gun tracery gutted that stricken wood you watched the chaffinch flutter to and fro through splintered branches, breaking buds and never a green bough left. Hundreds lay in there wounded. If any, you say, spotted one bird they may have wondered why a thing with wings would stay in such a place. She must have, sure, had chicks she was too terrified to feed, too loyal to desert. Like roots clutching at air you stick to the lark singing fit to burst at dawn sounding insincere above the burning bush: plough-land latticed like folds of brain with shell-ravines where nothing stirs but black rats, jittery sentries and the lice sliding across your faces every night. Where every elixir's gone wrong you hold to what you know. A little nature study. A solitary magpie blue and white spearing a strand of willow. One for sorrow. One for Babylon, Ninevah and Northern France, for mice and desolation, the burgeoning barn-owl population and never a green bough left.