The Flight

By Christopher Middleton 1926–2015 Christopher Middleton
Just seen, running, and silver-gray
along the top tube of a fence between myrtles and me,
too slinky for a bird and even at this distance
unmistakably a quadruped and
nimble, some sort of unspoiled animal, but which?
It ran as if away
from a threat, peril was everywhere,
a footsole crunches it, it is mangled
by a tire’s treads, hawk scoops it, turkey buzzard
pecks at it, no speech mitigates its pains,
even the cat fools with it, until, inedible,
it is kicked into the gutter. There she goes,
the slinky silver-gray Atalanta of reptiles
vanishes in no time, for the wind
whisks from her feet such tenuous gusts of air —
brisk now where turnpikes stretch their webs,
and not forever can an earthiness
so sweet as this propel such grace.

She’ll have got to the mantis eggs by now,
at each gulp of hatchling
she slowly blinks with satisfaction.

Source: Poetry (January 2014).


This poem originally appeared in the January 2014 issue of Poetry magazine

January 2014
 Christopher  Middleton


Described as “one of the most scrupulous of British poets involved in following the innovations of modernism,” by Douglas Dunn, poet and translator Christopher Middleton holds a unique place in contemporary British and American verse. Born in Truro, England in 1926, Middleton served in the Royal Air Force before attending Merton College at Oxford University. He taught at the University of Zurich and King’s College in London, and . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Death, Nature, Animals


Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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