The Fox and the Duck

Barbara Hardy

As I walk down to the shore at daybreak
You cross my path, old softstepper,
Just by the Tor where we’ve often smelt you.
Making tracks for your earth and cubs,
Back from the saltmarsh and watermeadows
Cradling a mallard in your mouth.

Surprised by me you drop the duck,
Present me with your proper prey,
Avert eyes and quicken trot
To become a part of the browning bracken
As I pick up the unmarked cooling body
To make a dinner of your breakfast.

I sigh for the green and the nightblue pinions,
All the pearly fluff of the tender breast feathers,
As with knowing hand I pluck the plumage
Till he lies there limp in a pimpled skin.
Eaten by me and killed by you,
You red beauty, my bloodbrother.