I take the cart to the heath
for hazel boughs,
then to the river,
cut willow withies.
My errands of mercy.

I lay my hazels, man length,
weave withies, bind tight.
My works of mercy.

They must be strong,
my hurdles,
my cradles of mercy.

I called our daughter Mercy.
Born a few summers past,
not like me,
she’s a one for talk.
Sets herself down in the yard
to watch my merciful work.
Leaves off trailing fingers
in shavings,
points at hurdles
stacked by the wall,
demands: what for?
She’ll not understand
my woven work of mercy
for the soon to be dead.
God help me –
To take sick people to the monks
is what I said.

Jo Peters


Hurdle : Definition (C) O.E.D.
A kind of frame or sledge on which traitors used to be
drawn through the streets to execution.