I’ve learnt to not spot,
to disregard logs,
to track absence.
I’ve traced his prints –
my fingertips have kissed the space
where his paws nimbled
for an instant.
I’ve scooped and microscoped spraint,
grown intimate with his prey.
By counting the rings of its scales,
I’ve aged the trout he duskly ate.
Others’ spraint I’ve left in place –
on rocks where waters web and knot,
in the underdark of bridges.
I’ve trained my nose to know
which is toaded with bones,
who’s aching to mate, or cubbing.
I’ve switched to snacking on carp
and crayfish, un zipped
amphibian skins, garnished
the grass with tail fins and jelly.
Now oaked among roots
I can feel
the river dream him again.
tarka my way