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Gregory Norminton


what is that tapping sound, i'm not imagining it, i'm certainly not dreaming, chance would be a fine thing, where is it coming from and why must i be alone to listen to it, i should hear nothing, i should fear nothing, like my relatives all curled up in sleep, whole months of it, oblivious to wind and rain, to the rime that coarsens the leaves, to that tapping sound, is it coming closer, is it something hungry crawling on its belly towards hot blood, i say hot, their hearts are barely beating while mine pounds in my chest, could it be that tapping sound is me, is it my heart, i've made the mistake before, like chasing your own tail, oh, if only we had stayed up there, in the hollow, holed up, but my kin are creatures of habit, they gathered the bark as usual, they gathered the grass as usual and the moss, what comforting industry before the great slumber, working up an appetite, i'm as hungry as the rest of them but the feast is not for me, i listen to them gorging on it, there's nothing like six months of unconsciousness to dull the edge of terror, if at least they knew what i did for them, what a service i render, keeping vigil, listening out for danger, not that it can help much, they're all so fat on sleep, even in summer when the flowers are gone and you're lucky to have a grub to chew on they sink into a torpor, a snout will cast its shadow, the jaws close over a dream and you wake up in someone’s gullet, but enough of that, I must not think of that, though I will have to sooner or later, this sitting here is all very well and it's warm enough if you don't mind the occasional shiver but everything that lives must eat, it's the LAW, i'm perishing here, the fat is melting off me, if only i could be like the rest of them, but i've run out of strategies, there aren't enough sides of my body to lie on, i've never seen a sheep, so i convince myself that they need me, that this torment serves a purpose, for someone has to keep an ear twitching, complacent oafs, but they're not to blame they're just doing what comes naturally, what ought to come naturally, am i unnatural then, a false start and a dead end, who will want to breed with me come spring, i'll be a wreck, all skin and bones, they won't know what i did for them, they won't have heard the tapping, it's coming from outside, i can hear breathing, i can feel vibrations in the soil, i'm not alone in being hungry, there are no haws no sloes no nuts no berries, no point in staying put, i'll only use up my store of fat, my supply of heartbeats, can it be worse than this, it will only last an instant, oh my kin, my companions, think of me when you come round, and do not mourn, not that you would, for i am gone to meet the great sleep that is the goal of all our slumbers and has the added kindness of being without dreams







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