The hare also appears in a number of poems I’ve written through the years: the one below is the first in a quartet I completed last October.
It’s a stand-alone piece, as are the other three poems: it also interlocks with the others to create a complete work.
The starting point for this particular poem was my awareness that wild creatures are becoming extinct at an alarming rate: not just high-profile, glamorous ones like tigers but also many, many others that we take for granted.
The reason for their demise is almost always a consequence of the action or inaction of the planet’s arch-enemy, Man.
This poem envisages an ecologist who seeks to restore threatened species to their habitat, by fair means or foul, and imagines him secretly breeding hares in captivity before releasing them, under cover of darkness, into the wild.
Midnight: a sickle moon, black trees in silhouette,
tall, jagged tops,
scribbled on night sky.
a sloping meadow,
a derelict croft,
a dry-stone wall winding, like a serpent,
towards somewhere unseen.
in the emerald grasses,
a barn-owl hunts, soundlessly,
like a reaper’s blade,
back and forth over dew-moist ground.
All is absolute glistening stillness
hushed as the world’s final breath.
He comes over the wall, rippling the darkness, fluidly,
spilling like water,
brown-booted, hooded, soft-footed,
moving with purpose and stealth,
crossing the meadow, head down-turned, hurrying,
curtained by camouflage, covert, concealed.
Kneeling, he opens a satchel,
secured by a leather-made leash,
and gently releases,
as though giving birth,
two leverets, supple and sinewy-soft,
that huddle together, immobile as boulders,
to feel the soft night on their shimmering fur,
and inhale the meadow, the moisture, the magic,
the coolness of grass, the moist sweetness of air.
Two young hares in the vastness of England,
two creatures dispatched to make Eden anew,
heed their ancestral summons and,
swallowed by darkness,
slip into the future, on cue.
I had the great good fortune to be interviewed by Jenny Kendall-Tobias today (31/3/16) on BBC Radio Guernsey and you can hear this poem and others being read and discussed at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03m3wb2
The interview starts 42 minutes into Jenny’s show and lasts for 3o minutes.