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I find it in a field of feathers, pink-crested,
a knuckle of bone picked clean by the wind,
a pale mohawk mounted on stone.
I bend down. Zeroed out of its head
are two sockets, two airy planets
full with sun, and taking asylum in one
a millipede is coiled, a slick black hypnotist.
Polished, it spirals in on itself
like one of Saint Hilda’s fossil snakes
we studied in the school chapel’s stained glass.
As if the eye could dig itself into the earth
then extend a curled feeler out, like a fern.
I turn the skull round in my palm like a pebble—
it will not settle. Otherwise, all is still:
the grasses claw in, the world does not tilt.
Even the blue stand of scrub grows over;
it has nothing on its mind. But the skull
will outlast the summer, a thought cut short,
and I will pass it every day as I walk
and stop just here, where the air hones its teeth
on bone, where the mind remembers itself
only as a shell, and I will mourn what was once
a world: one eye rolled to the daylight moon,
the other pressed down into the earth.
Source: Poetry (January 2011)