Northwords Now

New writing, fresh from Scotland and the wider North
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A Kingfisher, A Dead Fox

by James Appleby

Carving halo and heart
from candle flames, knapping until
that bird’s blue-orange back. When you see her close,
the slick of turquoise between wings, her different shades of vapour,
eat everything. The bank unfocuses. Whatever the iron fence
– she settles on a spoke – is guarding: well, whatever.
But there’s candle-orange past that fence.
It nags in the field of the binoculars. Turn the dial
to see a cub asleep, breathing, you’re sure,
and shallower as you watch, until it was always dead.
Entirely whole but for the eyes
the dark inside the skull looks out
and it seems strangely wise for a dead dog.
The bird is shifting on the spoke
almost too alive, then up,
upriver, low over the rocks.

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