‘Mercy’ by Kathy Pimlott


I dream forgetfully, retain just a suggestion
of something thwarted. My husband dreams

of murder, all hands-on: noose, bludgeon,
knives. He’s under orders to kill, demurs,

he says, in vain. This is a man who dispatches
prolapsed chickens, mice, once a muntjac fawn

half-garrotted on a wire fence, a man who salts
ox tongue, the great muscle sitting outside

five days in a big pan, covered against snow
and crows. If I remember a dream, it’s sludgy,

like running against an ebbing tide. Awake,
I’d turn, give in, fall back onto the drag.

I’m no fighter. It was so small, the fawn,
he said, he thought it was a cub. It was only

when its mother waded upstream he realised
what it was, had been. I dream of journeys

which end in no place much, hours to wait
until the next bus back. Sometimes the feeling

doesn’t match the story, leaks out into the day.
I seldom wake up crying, less than once a year.
Kathy Pimlott reads ‘Mercy’ on SoundCloud
Kathy Pimlott has two pamphlets with The Emma Press. Her first full collection is due in spring 2022 with Verve Poetry Press. She lives in Seven Dials, London. Twitter @kathypimlott