by Diane Fahey
By the ponds at Hampstead Heath
We sat watching the tall houses chequered by windows
blind with sunset's pink-and-copper sheen,
or lit from within by dense honey, flickering blue —
all cast towards us, a shimmering tattoo
over the water's slippery green.
The rats came warily, sliding from soundless
ripples to take on shape then hobble and race
along the water's edge — silhouettes against
a gleam patterned by spreading wakes.
Caught for a moment in some distant beam
as it paused to scan the trees, the cat
loped down the rise, settled, a grey stone
under the cooling air between pond and rats' nest.
Time — measured by bat shrieks, lapping water,
our breath — moved on until stopped by the squeal
of a sudden death we strained to witness;
began once more with the slow pace of the cat
as it strolled to its own nest, then reappeared
empty-mouthed to become as stone again,
and wait with eyes quiescent, glinting,
in the interval between the match struck,
Last updated January 14, 2019