Possum (for John Clare).
When morning comes we go and loose the dog:
we walk upon the frost that stings our legs,
our breathing close to snapping in the air,
the barking dog cavorting everywhere.
We plunge into the bush and find the track
that leads into the valley and the traps.
There’s nothing caught until the very last
and there he is, a silver-grey, the frost
all gone from where he’s dragged the trap.
My brother whacks his head with a single thump
and both his eyes bulge out, he jumps and kicks.
The dog goes bonkers, chewing rotten sticks,
he tears the sack we carry, hot for blood.
The possum takes a few more whacks, his head
rolls over, now he’s dead. We yell and jump
like mad, we’re movie Indians counting coup:
two and six for a token. Our hands are freezing
but we take the scalp: Hoka Hey! Yelling
and screaming like a bunch of Apaches
we head back home for a feed of pancakes.