One way to see an otter
I will take you to a place I know
we’ll wait for the incoming tide
to lift the slick flat strands of kelp
for the soft saltwater
to run its gentle fingers through the weed
opening spaces for a hunter’s tumble turns,
while we hunker downwind
scentless and hidden,
waiting, field glasses poised.
And maybe in that stillness
where the breathing loch
is easy, and the oystercatchers rest,
a slight splash, the way the silken water
parts around a shape, dark,
that could be rock, or bladderwrack
but for its grace and purpose,
will capture our attention
and breathless we will watch
as she ties our hearts in knots
binds them in the ribbons of her flow
as she goes about the business of an otter:
diving, catching crabs, rising sleek upon a boulder,
the fierce way her killer’s teeth
make a mess of shell and flesh
pink tongue as she crunches open-jawed,
muzzle haloed by bristle of whiskers,
her coat breaking into spikes
along lithe arc of hunched spine,
how she lifts her tail to spraint,
slips quickly back under
the sea loch’s silver skin.
And you will never be the same again.
You will go back into your life
like a man who’s glimpsed a ghost, or
been visited by angels;
shaken by the intimation
of a truth more vital, undone
by the press of nature’s palm
upon your chest.
Rose is a rewilder, garden designer, ephemeral artist, environmental activist and writer. Her writing is rooted in a lifelong deep connection to the natural world. In her spare time she grows organic vegetables and goes for long walks.