Leiden at Night

On Hearing the News

Ruth Taaffe

Someone had cut the ears off a donkey.

A search party was gathered and they moved

through the town intending arrests


while the donkey was wrapped with bandages

around his suddenly smaller head.

It was touch and go whether he’d make it


after being found braying by the gate at midnight

by two drunk lovers walking back from the pub,

his hair matted and sticky with blood


as though missing his crown of thorns.

They said the row pierced like the scrape of broken glass

on metal then a chainsaw cutting through tight wood.


‘Chilling’, they said. They did what they could -

one cradling the crying beast while the other

phoned for help. Both stood there shivering


in the clear-sky cold with their jackets staunching

the flow. Though the ears were never found and the couple

split up, that night held them fastened for good.

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Ruth Taaffe is from Manchester, England. She has lived in Sheffield, Berkshire, Thailand, Australia and Singapore. She writes about the experience of living overseas, the idea of home and how the natural environment finds its way into our identity. Ruth has taught English in the UK and in international schools for over twenty years. She has a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and her poems have been published in various literary journals including The Poetry Village, Acumen and Poetry Birmingham. Her first collection ‘Unearthed’ will be published in November 2021 by Dempsey and Windle.