by Ted Hughes
The dog loved its churlish life,
Scraps, thefts. Itsdeclined blood
An anarchy of mindless pride.
Nobody's pet, but good enough
To double with a bitch as poor.
It had bitten ears and little stone eyes,
A mouth like an incinerator.
It held man's reasonable ways
Between its teeth. Received death
Closed eyes and grinning mouth.
This woman's as from death's touch: a surviving
Barrenness: she abides; perfect,
But flung from the wheel of the living,
The past killed in her, the future plucked out.
The dead are indifferent underground.
Little the live may learn fromthem—
A sort of hair and bone wisdom,
A worn witchcraft accoutrement
Of proverbs. Now the brute's quick
Be tinder: old spark of the blood-heat
And not death's touch engross her bed,
Though that has stripped her stark indeed.
Goats, black, not angels but
Bellies round as filled wine-skins
Slung under carcase bones.
Yet that's not brute light
And no merely mountain light--
Their eyes' golden element.
Rustle of their dry hooves, dry patter,
Wind in the oak-leaves; and their bent
Horns, stamp, sudden reared stare
Startle women. Spirit of the ivy,
Stink of goat, of a rank thriving,
Over sand that the sun's burned out
Thudding feet of the powerful,
Their oiled bodies brass-bright
In a drift of dust. The earth's crammed full,
Its baked red bellying to the sky's
Electric blue. Their attitudes—
A theorem of flung effort, blades:
Nothing mortal falters their poise
Though wet with blood: the dog has blessed
Their fury. Freshthongs of goat-skin
In their hands they go bounding past,
And deliberate welts have snatched her in
To the figure of racers. Maker of the world,
Hurrying the litghost of man
Age to age while the body hold,
Touch this frozenone.
Erma has been drawing she was a small child. She received lessons in chalk pastels at age 7, taught herself calligraphy at age 11, and learned the basics of figure drawing at age 13. She became a professional calligrapher in 1995.