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
Welsh poet Susan Richardson‘s third collection of poetry, skindancing, was published by Cinnamon Press in 2015. She is currently poet-in-residence with both the Marine Conservation Society and the global animal welfare initiative, World Animal Day. Her fourth collection, Words the Turtle Taught Me, themed around endangered marine species, will be published in 2018.