Saturday Poem: ‘Creatures’ by James Aitchison

For weeks we watched a spotted flycatcher
tenant the garden like a summer guest.
We didn't see the other birdwatcher –
grey squirrel, magpie, cat? – plunder the nest.


We feed the cattle pelleted necrotics
(dead animals' dried tissue, flesh and bone),
inject them with steroids and antibiotics
to keep the creatures alive till they're full-grown.


'Coursing's fairer than gunshot, gas or snare.'
When a greyhound grows too old, it's killed.
But just before a pair of greyhounds tear
a hare apart, the hare cries like a child.


Panda, orang utan, and polar bear –
species can be at risk for a hundred years
or more before we make them disappear.
Pine marten, red squirrel, mountain hare…

Wild animals lead strictly ordered lives; 
their freedom is a wild necessity.
House animals are like children, husbands, wives,
the kind of mindless beasts we used to be.

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