be published by Faber next year.
A Modern Ecstasy
When I was a boy with my father right behind me
he shooed me out one day in the early morning
with a gun tucked under my arm and said: why not
walk round for an hour and see what you can find.
I followed our tatty hedge which led me past
the Ashground, then the pond filled in with bricks,
then the Council tip, and then the water-meadows
where I stopped, and felt the emptiness, and wanted to go back.
I saw the hoar-frost sunlit on the line of sycamores
which staggered with the river in its twisting bed;
I heard the snow-crust hardening the grass which creaked
and grumbled as I flicked the safety-catch and moved ahead.
I hated it: the signs of people, then the lack of them;
the ugliness, and then that crystal beauty flooding in.
I don't know why. My feelings were my own.
My life was mine. My life was everything.
So when the hare appeared I didn't hesitate.
Before it cleared the line of sycamores I had it
covered, waiting for my moment, which was when
it sat down door-stop still, the long ears brindled white,
the short-lashed eyes, the split and quizzical top lip all fixed
for ever as I bowled it over, so at any time
thereafter I might call them up, and see the blood-filled nose again,
the clotted fur, the gleaming brain wide open to the air
as I do now, tip-toeing forward through the bedroom dark
towards you in your cot to hear you breathe, to loom above
your milky-smelling body and your hare-lipped face
for no especial reason, just for love.Reuse content