The Stolen Herd
Rowan Middleton

St Cuthbert

Sometimes when we took the shore road
we’d see him wandering
with his long beard and billowy clothes.

We’d tap the horn
and he would wave and grin,
even on a morning when the winter wind
slipped though the gaps in the cab
and the head struggled
to join two thoughts together.

Once we pulled in for an early bait,
saw him knelt in front of the waves.
We watched his back for twenty minutes or so.
The dog whimpered
and our tea steamed up the windscreen.

I was chucking my dregs out the window
when an eagle flicked through the air,
the glint of a fish caught in its talons.
It swung down, set its catch on the sand,
preened and shuffled about on the stones.
The man took out a penknife,
threw one half back to the eagle,
and walked off down the beach.

We stared at each other.
‘There’s a bloke who knows a trick or two,’
Ben said as he fumbled about
with the wires under the dash.
I nodded. The engine shook our seats.
Didn’t say much else for the rest of the day.