Barbed Wire


Does barbed wire resent its role
eternally racked between two posts
or does it relish the scorpion tails curved to draw blood?
Is the blackberry seen as cousin or conqueror?
Is electricity seen as helpmate or rival?
Does it smirk wickedly when the wet-nosed calf is slapped
or does it curse as a child might curse to see the elder spoil its fun?

Does barbed wire dream?
In dreams does it untwist
drop barbs like loose hair?
Does it strain to snap
spring to a ball then tumbleweed away?
Should it reach the sea
would it untangle there
eel into the surf?
Would it explore and return
or dissolve with a sigh?


Skeletal fingers rise
from the no man's land mud
of the drying dam.


My father tells me
wire makes cattle of men.
He tells me this
with eyes that still see the wire
and the things that flap there.

But wire is practical too.
It keeps sheep from trees.
separates cow from bull.
dissuades greedy heifers
obstructs kangaroos.

As I spool out the wire
shake loose barbs that cat claw
my father's hands impose.
Joy Reid