Otter ( lutra lutra)
Soft vowels in their name implies
a life near flowing water,
clear as glass with green weed streaming.
You only see where they have been –
some fish scales scattered on the bank,
the wreckage of a broken gull –
not where they are.
Fifteen miles is nothing in a night –
upstream steadily against the flow
then branching off down becks and brooks –
silent, they leave nothing
but paw prints in the soft earth.
It’s said that they can purr like cats,
feign birdsong, lure sparrows from the trees
then crack their bones with needle teeth.
Unafraid, they lounge
by the fishpond
chew carp, still twitching in their jaws,
then melt into the shadows,
the black waters,
make no more noise
than the rippling of their name