Column 09

I’ve just returned from the Isle of Skye, which has many different kinds of animals, domestic and wild. This poem by Rebecca O’Connor takes a sideways view of nature that’s ‘red in tooth and claw’. It’s from her collection We’ll Sing Blackbird, published by The Moth magazine. There’s also a film of the poem here.

Dear Taxidermist

Out here past the adolescent River Erne, with your fish heads eyeing us
from the shelves – a two-headed lamb was once brought in to you

by a vet, you say, and a black bear by someone else.
If I had two heads I’d give one to you to mould and make good again,
make a gift of it to a friend, mounted on a piece of driftwood.
Instead I bring you this bullfinch,
bloodshot on the glass pane of the conservatory
where it mistook the reflection of the rowan tree for the real thing.
It’s a wedding present. Strange, you say,
but beautiful all the same, as my second head would be,
given the right hands.


Used with kind permission of Rebecca O’Connor and The Moth magazine.