Thursday 28 September 2017

Dead Hare for National Poetry Day

Today is National Poetry Day so I thought I would share one from a collection I have been reading recently. John Burnside's 'Still Life with Feeding Snake' has been my breakfast book for a couple of weeks now, I am reading through it for the second time. This poem appealed to me because I encountered a dead fox on Fog Lane a few weeks ago and it was similarly perfect, undamaged despite obviously having been struck by a car on a busy, narrow road. It is rare to get so close, so I bent down to stroke its ear.


I got home late that night, so I didn't see
the body, till the headlamps picked it out,
almost unscathed, so it seemed,
in the hover of light, the taxi-driver
stepping out to look, as I stooped down
and ran my fingers through the empty pelt.

No marks that I could see, no wounds
to tell how it had died, the driver
stepping out to look, unless he'd thought
to see me to the door,
sensing the blur in my hands, the house key
spilling from my fingers in the dark, the smell
of vodka on my breath.

By morning, the fur had creased
and shriveled, and the outcurve of the eye
was nothing but a smudge
of glaze and pulp, the limbs
extended, still, as if they could recall
the joy of bounding through the summer grass,
still formal, while its substance leached away
and left behind a corpse, abridged, unspooled,
all tenderness surrendered to the rain

so quietly, it made me want to stop
and let the spell come over me, a brief
rehearsal of the self shrugged off or pared
away, another body shining though
as skin and bone, perhaps, but with its light
intact, the tawny camber of the soul
protracted, till the chance of something new
seemed possible, if only for an hour.

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