Like the ground was water to him
that to me was talcum caked trail
wobble-wise in woods, either side
girt with fern, rusted layered furls:
he lay as one dead; and it would
seem he was so, were it not
the up-tilt of his head, held
above the floor one hairbreadth,
cooling himself? What doing there
in diffuse noon’s again again
leaves-refracted lights that jounced,
did a jig over all the path and him?
Even with approach – close, more close,
he would not alter, would not extend
his sides with breathing; but when I
pushed a clip of dirt with a twig
towards his tail, his other end flickered
wan violet flame. Instantly he
poured out odour that brought back times
when we would grab such, sun-loose
in field with hands bare, often in
weeds that stung, demanded pay
for taking these cool sliding braids;
nettle more hurtful than our prey.
Star-bursts in grass, whose prickled beams
would not seem to hurt what we sought,
sometimes cloistered them. These, rare times seen
from winging owls, like seaweed
would hang from a lifted sea log.
We never kept them long, extended
catch and release, in his or mine yard,
sometimes found later, unforeseen,
when lifting a clump of light grass
like a tangled toupee from off
the composting heap: expose one, still
as a lump of lead, in dull brown scales,
wound around itself in frozen vortex.
They were the initial surprise
from looking at the singing floor,
and we would carry on in our
own trajectories: lore on lore
of old games made new, new sights made
familiar, familiar sights
reseen with new or old games.
Then the summer lore comes back, in
sudden stops of eye-catch, on ponderous
walkway whitegrey; and where to go,
for the one on floor and I both,
caught in the quiet of the woods?
Junction sweet; his patience bettered mine:
each second held his fate, whether
sailing off and find a feast, or
caught up and talon flown, to be
beaked to pieces by owlets.
All held. I tried the twig once more. Along
his sides were hair-thin lines of lime,
with which he of a sleek sudden
struck away, out of the margins
that enclosed him: no ballyhoo,
reverberating snap or scare;
no again or to or start or from,
essence derived from winding silk
could one from seething silk, let blood,
like the ground was water to him.