by Ted Hughes
That is not your mother but her body.
She leaped from our window
And fell there. Those are not dogs
That seem to be dogs
Pulling at her. Remember the lean hound
Running up the lane holding high
The dangling raw windpipe and lungs
Of a fox? Now see who
Will drop on all fours at the end of the street
And come romping towards your mother,
Pulling her remains, with their lips
Lifted like a dog's lips
Into new positions. Protect her
And they will tear you down
As if you were more her.
They will find you every bit
As succulent as she is. Too late
To salvage what she was.
I buried her where she fell.
You played around the grave. We arranged
Sea-shells and big veined pebbles
Carried from Appledore
As if we were herself. But a kind
Of hyena came aching upwind.
They dug her out. Now they batten
On the cornucopia
Of her body. Even
Bite the face off her gravestone,
Gulp down the grave ornaments,
Swallow the soil.
So leave her.
Let her be their spoils. Go wrap
Your head in the snowy rivers
Of the Brooks Range. Cover
Your eyes with the writhing airs
Off Nullarbor Plains. Let them
Jerk their tail stumps, bristle and vomit
Over their symposia.
Think her better
Spread with holy care on a high grid
To take back to the sun. Imagine
These bone-crushing mouths the mouths
That labor for the beetle
Who will roll her back into the sun.
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