Summerland Menagerie

A poem for the roadkilled.

I am back clearing litter
to learn how autumn falls
from yellow lime, browning oak
and tar-spotted sycamore,

counting shattered beech shells,
chestnuts cracked like skulls,
galls and acorns smashed flat
on merciless black roads

where heedless of a squirrel’s bark
a hedgehog uncurls and walks
beneath the tyres of a runaway world.
Costumed magpies finish the corpse

then shapeshifters bury the bones
in a graveyard in the liminal wood
where hanging trees lift creaking doors
to earthen routes of the goblin realms.

Faded fruits rot from the stalks.
Berries wither. Damsons drop.
An apple falls into my hand.
Within its core I find the song

of a garden where all fruits are born
and tiny creatures gather round
a fragrant summer ever long
and dance again forever young.

I take and revere the golden song,
a gift from my muse in the summerlands
to keep like a wish as autumn falls
on pitiless roads where the dead lie cold.

*This poem was written in response to a blog post by Sarah Hymas about road kill. I witness the tragic impact of overpopulation on local wildlife everyday out walking or on my bike ride to work. The death of small animals on the roads is seldom noticed let alone acknowledged or addressed.

3 thoughts on “Summerland Menagerie

  1. I always say a little prayer when i see a roadkill – “May you be reborn into the womb of a mother who lives Far Away from a road”. And i spend the spring stopping to getting many turtles off the road along the river before they get hit. If you think about it they have been climbing out of that river for perhaps a million years or more before humans built their roadblocks in their path to lay eggs above the flood zone, so they have the right of way.

  2. Alex Jones

    The roadkills are the symptom of disharmony between humanity and nature. The designers of roads could have worked in better harmony.

  3. As a walker or cyclist, you see the carnage wrought by cars, and it is shocking. I suspect most people who drive have no sense of just how many other beings lose their lives under the wheels.

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