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Midsummer Loop

Frances Leviston


Midsummer Loop

now in the stillness, the two still hours
between this meeting and that,
hours of silence in which the angel of conversation deserts us
to beat her wings above another gathering,
another long room, magnificent table and solemn pronouncement
made to the detriment of everybody else
and the glorification of the subject,
now we are abandoned to our own resources
on this one original summer’s day
and two hours fill like stones with the heat of the afternoon,
two flat stones placed on the stomach to steady
the heartbeat and the breathing,
a number of rabbits
emerge from their secret holes hidden about campus,
hidden but not undiscoverable holes
down in the beginnings of dry holly-bushes out of season
and the naked wooden roots of rhododendrons
from which the rabbits hop forward one hop at a time, one a minute,
a hundred little clepsydras
all set to different schedules, forward
on to the grass, where they balance, weightless as empty pelts
on the points of the blades, like martial artists
who lie unharmed on beds of nails
conducting their spiritual business, with two hot stones
weighing down their bodies, lightly, painlessly,
rabbits fanning out
across the sweeps of grass that sustain them,
across the blades that do not bend beneath them,
and they eat with steady hunger and enormous concentration,
clipping flat the sharp tips
precisely with ordinary, curved, discoloured teeth
again and again, masticating the strands
as they cross and re-cross the blocks of dark gold sun
laid across the lawns like golden doors
they pass through unharmed, through which we cannot pass,
both ears laid flat like banked canoes
and their great hind legs quiet and relaxed,
white scuts bobbing
gently across the campus, which is also their campus,
attached as rabbits are attached to their shadows
to a vast university invisible underground, the one ours mirrors,
intricate halls of residence and studios
round which the rabbits conduct themselves
in absolute darkness, by touch and smell alone, the wordless
sensitivities of their whiskers
brushing the walls and other warm bodies
or thrilling to an offensive discharge of fear in the air
undetectable to humans,
to the human who feels so pleased to have spotted
two rabbit-holes, there, at the foot of that blossoming tree,
now in the stillness, the two still hours
between this meeting and that



This poem was commissioned from the poet by Writers’ Centre Norwich as part of it annual Worlds International Literary Salon.

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  • Nic Bouskill says:

    Wonderful! I needed to look up clepsydras, and that unlocked a wealth of meanings, but is also such a great evocation of the way bunnies hop! Then the opening out of their underground world reminds us of the otherness of their existences. I enjoyed this greatly.

  • daniel bosch says:

    Terrific. Brava! Bunnies resuscitated from an other wor(l)d.