The Slowworm's Tail

The slowworm, in common with many other lizards, sometimes sheds its tail (which then wriggles convulsively as it dies) to avoid capture. It soon grows a new one.

Walking the sunlit path alone,
she sees it: thrashing rhythmically-
left, right, left, right - on the stony ground.

Tapered tip, twisting over burnished bronze,
brushes a stump of blood and bone - arcs away,
to coil again in supple symmetry.
The newly shed tail, eyeless and mute,
discovers its own loss.

For impossible minutes, she watches
as it writhes in the dust, aware
only that it is not whole -
then turns away to face the steepening path.
Where can it find such energy, she wonders,
now that its heart is gone?

Sarah Willans

If you've any comments on this poem, Sarah Willans would be pleased to hear from you.