Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Tiger Hunts

Can it really be more than four months since I've added some lines to the interminable work? Bad Rik! Especially as I've set myself the target of having this long poem finished, revised and (possibly) published by the end of the year.

Snowdrop 10.3: The Tiger Hunts

She walks the sods and the soils of the marsh,
each saucer paw padding the dirt
into oval dents. When ditches block
her path she leaps them, pitching her limbs
in a stretch across the stagnant waters -
an arch of blacks and oranges burst
through the robes of mist, disrupting geese
from sleep in the reeds. She sniffs at the earth,
whiskers herding the hardened stalks
of winter wheat in whorls and swirls,
touching, tasting the tangs of this world.

When she spots the sheep, she stops mid-pace -
a new-cast statue: an ewe looks up,
cud on the tongue, twitch-ears sculling
for a hint of sound beside the expected
creaks and cracks of her cold-hugged home.

Still now; steal a splinter of inch:
let slide the muscles, let slip the claws
through the clay clods and crouch, and settle
the tail, and wait. Watch for the duck
of a head, the scrape of hoof on ice ...

... and dash! A flash of fur across
the field; a snarl, a flick of the paw
and they tumble down, a tussle of wool
and scat - the herd scarpers, their bleats
a billow of alarms alerting neighbours:
danger! Danger! Dogs on the loose!
Teeth on the throat! Tearing and ripping -
run to the gate; gather and huddle!

But she is no dog. She drags the meat
back to the ditch, dips through the reeds
and into the water, etching a curl
of ripples from bank to bank as she paddles
her course to the sewer, and the sea beyond.

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