29 JANUARY 2005, Page 29


A new fox has come.

The last one lingered long after a righteous but ill-placed bullet. Our case was airtight, forty chickens, fifteen ducks, one ancient goose.

We had glimpses now and then, noticed blood spots over frosty pasture, but vengeance rose up hard in us.

We gave no quarter — quietly glad we hadn’t owned the trigger finger, lazy eye.

I found him in a cleaned out coop, skin and bone, like a sack of knives, his mangy corpse already flyblown.

Here is the shabby underbelly of righteous anger, this crawling picnic of flesh.

We buried him, opened up the same pit where his victims were piled and dropped him in. The mound’s still fresh, humped up, the soil exposed like an unpicked scab. And now, for lambing time, there is a new fox come.

Lesley Quayle