Jeremy Rogers

Wrtitten in 1993
Published by BBC 1994 'Poet of the Year'
Illustration for BBC Wildlife
Broadcast in Poetry Please May 1994
The Beast of Bodmin Moor

Something is spooking the walkers, killing sheep.
Ewes flicked like cotton wool balls, left sliced, rippered.
No-one has truly seen it, given it shape.
A libratory shift, swift at the edge of sight,
it haunts those grey passages, deeper than sleep,
turns rumours into newspaper features, fact-peppered
with jaw comparisons, claw depth and power of bite
that brand it cat.  Cruel, bandit cat, a beast;
yet cat enough for moor-grizzled farmers to will it,
summon it, not vengeful in the least, live and whole
for tabloid men with hungry lenses.
Dogs, shot without a thought for such betrayal of trust,
lack the imagination for such blood lust
that touches these deep senses, our animal soul.

I might have imagined something else out there alive
besides the taffeta rustle of the moon drenched orchard,
yet this bright, hard place pressed into unlidded meadows
between the granite-humped moor and the slate edged sea,
has been winter quarters for some gentle huntress. Unseen,
her presence announced in the shamanic arrangements of her leavings:
little heaps of ivory, horribly clean, piled neatly in the old pig pen.
Such cold facts, small lives born to be snacks, a skull to each corner.
She needs people near, perhaps, witnesses now and then.
Her appearance now is a curtain call.  Dappled, creamy in the black,
size of a labrador, ears tufted.  Beautiful Death come in spotted robe.
I stare, and haloed eyes, waxing full, stare indolently back,
then slowly, with heavy patience, close in a wink, heartbeats long.
A cat kiss draws me in complicity, mutual forgiveness.

My eyes open to the empty orchard.
To a smile left leaving.

Document made with Nvu © Jeremy Rogers  1993, 1994, 2009, 2010