Jacob McCulloch’s Holy Barrow

Having cycled Jacob’s hills across
the narrow spine of this peninsula,
I do wonder which
was the one where his barrow –

laden with cheap stamped plates
and bowls, a-flutter with
his holy tracts and pamphlets, not to say
further burdened by Jacob himself

– the one where his barrow gathered
too much pace for the bend
on that breathless, winter-runnelled
drop, its front wheel rattling, waggling,

all steering bounding out from
under his big hands, his eyes above
those good cheekbones stretched wide
at his moment of crash. And the crack

and split of wooden spokes and then
the sound, ongoing, printing onto air,
of breaking china. Which, they say,
you could pick from that ditch,

for years, long after Jacob
had gathered up
his crumpled tracts
and gone to God.

Jean Atkin
This poem was awarded 1st prize in the FRP Competititon 2014/5


Jean Atkin is a professional poet and writer, based in Shropshire. Her first collection Not Lost Since Last Time is published by Oversteps Books. She has also published five poetry pamphlets and a children’s novel, The Crow House. She works in schools and on community projects, and has held various residencies in both England and Scotland. She is currently Poet in Residence for Wenlock Poetry Festival 2015.

Jean’s website