Wrapped in home-spun wool dyed king bolete yellow, I lift the curtain and enter the damp quiet of the under-canopy, seeking the medicine of bark and root. I trail fingertips over rips in the hemlock’s tree-skin at head-height. Warily, I move on to the gnarled majesty of a mature yew. Startled by the air-snap of wing-clap and harsh croak-call of raven, I drop sticks, crouch to the spongy floor. A rustle and huff behind me and I suspend animation, wet grass and musk clinging to my face. A back nudge, and I tip, whine as I land face to moss. Play dead. Play dead. Lichen drips.
In baggy coat you emerge pale from the yew-hollow, ears and nose eager, pricked. You nudge at the creature that smells food-mate-threat, and swing snout over the false corpse. You examine the cache of bark and root, but it is not to eat. One paw either side, pull at the false-fur with teeth, inhale her real scent. You nuzzle at her silky true-fur, rub your neck against her. The creature exhales, quivers, and you offer a short retreat, stay low, click your mouth to tell her. You think of the mount, the bone thrust and play bite, but winter was long and the river calls.
Emma Filtness is lecturer in Creative Writing at Brunel University London. Her poetry was displayed as part of the world’s first Instagram poetry exhibition at the National Poetry Library, was placed in the Northern Poetry Library’s ‘Poem of the North’ competition and recently featured in both the Poem Atlas ‘Escapisms’ and Mellom Press ‘Home’ visual poetry exhibitions. Emma finds inspiration in nature and the dark feminine, makes zines and particularly enjoys exploring found and visual poetics. Twitter: @em_filtness Instagram: @cultofflora