Blondie the Retriever confirms you exist,
with a squeal from the hillside as he paws
at your fiefdom of heather. The cub scout
camp fixing a tightrope between trees,

they’d testify they saw you and the twitchers
in their bunker claim the same, waiting
on a peregrine or skylark, but it was the badger
spotter who hit paydirt, a camouflaged colony

in the gorseland, writhing collage of ash
and pepper, schoolyard greys, cables of marl
and charcoal rain. Your emergence is always a spree,
a spate, a series of sightings: reed bed, railway bank

conservation acre, goosing the roe deer, in Pembroke,
Holkham, balled in a patch of bog myrtle,
but long shot for the corrugated reptile shelter.
Zagged Punchinello, scallywag, boo-hiss, main player

in a Cumbrian noir, Saxon totem, the crossbow poachers
would lower their heads to whisper they’d found you –
rascal species of our native quad – biding in the hideout
of the chalky downs, passive-minatory in the mineral mines.

A DELICACY OF ADDER by Samuel Prince

Photo used under CC.