The water rat

Charged with handfuls of hard bread,

We head through the thickening ferns,

Over stones that were the mill,

Now scattered like fight-freed teeth.

The pond lengthens unbrokenly

Between a bus queue of  tall trees,

Bleeding shade and loosened leaves.

We’re expecting to see the duck;

A solitary mallard,

Drifting, feathers grease-flattened.

Instead a water rat reclines,

Sunlight smeared like margarine

Over a pelt pasted to its flanks.

It eats our tangled crusts,

Basks in that spangled fluid.

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