THE MURCHEN QUARTET
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,
crosses 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.
the world, reborn, astounds:
grass greener, yet,
than far-off fields,
and mountains, a kaleidoscope
Clear water, over polished rocks,
as wind unsettles trees.
Beside a zig-zag,
a dragonfly, with rainbow wings,
flicks like a fencer’s blade.
Each dawn they view
their changed, unchanging world
its prehistoric, savage joy,
past erased, future
their world begins afresh.
Only the extraordinary now,
a collision of senses,
drumbeat scuttle of field-mice,
accordion-wind in high meadows.
In crystalline pools
trout glide like ghosts.
Owls, tombed in dead trees,
in the magical moment,
Stillness is her best defence.
So she becomes
a russet stone,
a dark tussock,
a clod of earth, upturned,
perhaps merely a shadow,
there, by a dry-stone wall
on hostile, open ground.
No shiver of wind
disturbs her tawny fur.
She sits, unbreathing,
stiff as an idol.
Only her eyes, bead bright
in a fine-boned head, travel
With leather-gaitered boots,
and slow-departing tread,
|Murchen is the Gaelic word for hare.|