He stops me dead
at a crossroads between day and night—
a badger lying on the road
as if he is sleeping
in his striped pyjamas.
I can see his bristled pelt,
his snout all gored,
the staggered rise and fall
of his chest like a troubled engine.
I leave the car and approach him,
lay my hand on his back.
A porcine grunt sticks in my throat
like a question.
You have always wanted
to see a badger up close
but not like this, in extremis,
under the headlights’ surgical glare,
kneeling in my blood.
No, you are not like your father
who once euthanased a rabbit
with a mallet called a priest.
You were always the one who
baulked and flinched,
who could not bear the weight
of a stick or stone.
So now, you are going to drive on,
with those two crows circling the sky,
the darkness around me dilating
like a dying eye.
Louise McKenna’s work has been widely published. In 2013 she was shortlisted for the Fish Poetry Prize. Her chapbook, The Martyrdom of Bees, is published by Garron Press.
Follow us for more: