Better disguised than the leaf-insect,

A sort of subtler armadillo,
The lake turns with me as I walk.

Snuffles at my feet for what I might drop or kick up,
Sucks and slobbers the stones, snorts through its lips

Into broken glass, smacks its chops.
It has eaten several my size

Without developing a preference—
Prompt, with a splash, to whatever I offer.

It ruffles in its wallow or lies sunning,
Digesting old senseless bicycles

And a few shoes. The fish down there
Do not know they have been swallowed

Any more than the girl out there, who over the stern of a rowboat
Tests its depth with her reflection.

Yet how the outlet fears it! — dragging it out,
Black and yellow, a maniac eel,

Battering it to death with sticks and stones.


Transcribed by Ludo Cinelli

July-1963This poem first appeared in The London Magazine July 1963.   


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