Giant Puffballs

Can I make it home, or do I shit
in the woods? I squat above the moss,
breathing its pheromones, my scrotum
shrunk like a walnut in the cold breeze.
I push quietly in case the dogs
on their morning walks come sniffing.
It drops on the leaves
with a muffled thud, and the smell
is like marzipan, not offensive
as it is against the clinical spruce
of the ordinary bathroom. It steams
in the dirt; the undigested sweetcorn
bright as stones in a brooch.
Coconut milk, rice from Shanghai,
spice from Afghanistan,
all remaking itself, feeding the trees.
I clean myself on a sycamore leaf,
smooth as a grocer’s handkerchief.
And then I see them: pregnant
as fish-bowls, weird as a hedgeful
of skulls. I pull one out of its hole
gentle as a midwife, palping the domed
head in my hands; I carry it home
on the bus; it sits in my lap
like a baby, plump as an arse,
smelling of milk and cinnamon.


from A Spillage of Mercury (Jonathan Cape, 1996), © Neil Rollinson 1996, used by permission of the author

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1Like the Blowing of Birds Eggs

2Giant Puffballs

3My Father Shaving Charles Darwin

4The King's Head

5Ménage à Trois

6Sutras in Free Fall

7The Penalty

8My Wives




12Deep Third Man





17The Path of a Thousand Hellos

18Vallejo: Waiting

19Ode to a Magnolia Tree

20The Wall

21Christmas in Andalucia

22Blue Movies

23The Joke Shop

24Between Bradford and Pudsey

25The National Razor

Books by Neil Rollinson