A hesitant muzzle flicks my ear,
the brush of whiskers threads my beard;
the strange dry supple flesh of snakes
prickles its way across my wrists and the backs of my hands.
I have much company today. Bumblebees at my elbows,
and fleas springing up from the dusty floors,
looking for room at the inn: their wanderings
as epic as Old Manyturns. What Circe have they left?
Will they attain the inside of the knee at last?
Soft flesh, sweet blood, three holy men with gifts?
The cat lands on the sill with a thump,
a rat still twitching feebly in her mouth:
the house yaws: its fins break the surface of the ground,
it breathes and shudders. All this fuss
for a few stains of fluid – for one skittery attempt –
for one Indian summer's shadow of a harvest.