Verdict – Rebecca Gethin


Today was almost the last

just as the willow warblers return,
as flies emerge and crawl to his eyes,
as the first swallows test the sky,
as the ground stiffens under his feet.

He shifts his weight from leg to leg.
His apple rump has withered.

We put the case
on either side
back and forth
across his sunken spine,

rubbing his neck and ears
flicking away the horsefly
he doesn’t swish his tail at.

His body prosecutes himself.

He doesn’t nudge me for a carrot
nor intimate whether
in his 36 years with us
he has learned our tones

and understands
the vet is coming
tomorrow afternoon at 3.

Rebecca Gethin has written 5 poetry publications. She was a Hawthornden Fellow and a Poetry School tutor. Vanishings was published by Palewell Press in 2020.  She was a winner in the first Coast to Coast to Coast pamphlet competition with Messages. She blogs sporadically at