Friday Poem – ‘Roadblock’ by Ilse Pedler

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘Roadblock’ by Ilse Pelder from her newly published debut collection Auscultation.

The cover of Auscultation shows a photograph of a stethoscope lying on a white background. An orange and red butterfly is resting on the cord.

Ilse Pedler is a veterinary surgeon who works in Kendal. Her debut collection is Auscultation, which means listening and specifically, in medicine, listening to sounds that come from the body’s internal organs. If listening is a central theme of this collection, it is also about being heard. There are poems about vets waiting rooms and surgical instruments, about crisis calls, about overhearing farmers and pet owners and colleagues. There are also poems about surviving a stern childhood and a heartbreaking sequence about being a stepmother.

“Unique and utterly original.” – Kim Moore

The night is a vast blank letter waiting
to be written and suddenly here are the words:
blue and red interrupting the darkness
glancing off shocked faces,
hi-vis jackets, shoulders hunched
against bad news, stationary cars.
I lower my window, say I am the vet
and am waved on through.
In the road a horse, spotlit, head down,
resting a leg as though tired from a ride,
no blood, just trembling under my hands,
steam beading the fine hairs on its flared nostrils,
and that leg; it is like a child’s drawing,
bones angled all the wrong way.
I don’t have what I need and am taken
to the surgery, speed elongating
the streetlights, then back past journeys
put on hold, through the roadblock
to the horse and its bent back leg,
sweat starting to carve rivers in his coat, his heat
and the pulse of him that I can feel still
through the rigid cold of the gun.

Auscultation is available now. As it is Independent Bookshop Week, why not buy through

We’re hosting the online launch for Auscultation on Tuesday 13th July from 7pm. Register to join us for free via Eventbrite here

Watch Ilse reading her poem ‘Miss Freak’s Whelping Forceps’, also from Auscultation:


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