Domestic Fauna

1 May 2015

1: Wryneck

Name: Wryneck.
Description: The head is small but with
a long beak, somewhere between
an ibis and a toucan. The body is
a coiled spring, feet long
and avian.
Movement: A jaunty, fairground
rhythm with a little hop like
someone preparing an awkward kick.
Diet/favourite offerings: Smooth
twigs twisted slightly at one
end. Marriages, especially first
ones. Childhoods, especially
first ones. Sounds/cries:
Difficult to describe, but suggestive
of the word ‘disconsolate’.

2: Visits from wild animals

There are crocs outside in great numbers.
Now and then we shoot some
to keep a decent distance. The sensation
is like cracking a prawn or crayfish
with your thumbs.
There’s a lion
half-tamed who pauses as you open
the door for him. He sniffs something
below the reach of human nostrils
and comes back in, lies
down for a chin scratch.
Hot baths can’t equal
the rough pleasure of his tongue.

3: Visits from extinct animals

And once a thylacine came. Something wolfish
in its long head, its fur thick
and rough. Something hyena-like
in its knowing eyes. It knew
it was extinct because of us
(one pale human looking
much like another) so we worried
when the kids wanted to stroke
its long jaw, mimic its drunken
walk. It was like meeting someone
whose suffering you’d heard about,
someone excluded come out
of the past. It could almost have been
a person disguised or a sleazy god
in an old myth, hidden in a skin.
It had the look of someone condemned
who knows he’s innocent and has something on you.

4: Sphere

Another household creature, quieter
being, the sphere, whose movement
is a circumambient flowing,
who seems to feed on nothing, or quietly
on itself, diminishing imperceptibly.
It’s mostly hollow centre,
an emptiness to revolve around.
Not some crude male imagining
of the female as lack, but something
before gender, that will outlive
all animals, everything weak enough
to need to move. It is utterly prior
and patient, runs kaleidoscopic
shapes across its skin. It’s
billions of years before the wryneck.

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