Poem: Catching a Porcupine by Stephen Watson

The following poem is of South African origin.

Catching a Porcupine 

Stephen Watson

Father used to say

that if I were sitting,

waiting for a porcupine,

the time is always best

when the Milky Way turns back —

this is the time

when a porcupine returns.


Father also said

I should feel the wind.

He used to say

I should be careful

always to test

the direction of the wind.

The porcupine is not a thing

which will return, he’d say,

coming with the wind.

Rather, it moves

slant-wise, across it,

so that it can better

sniff the air and tell

if danger lurks ahead.


Father used to say

I should breathe softly

when sitting, waiting

for a porcupine.

It is a thing, he said,

which hears everything.

I must not even

make a rustling.

I must sit deadstill.


Father taught me

about the stars.

He used to say

that I should,

if sitting by a burrow,

I should watch the stars,

the places where they fell,

I should, above all,

watch them keenly,

for the places where stars fall,

he often taught,

really are the places

where porcupines can be caught.

Note: The asterisks are ones I placed to mark the stanza breaks to avoid formatting issues with WordPress.


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