A grey day, fresh
Running again past the terraced housing
Small unkempt gardens leading to modest brick homes
The smell made me turn
Without a doubt, death
A cloying smell
Dusty without dust
Penetrating without form
Dark and heavy as a cloud
The smell made me turn

It looked dead
Scraggy Tongue out
Eyes black if eyes were even there
perhaps they’d been supped away
The fur sparse, mange scrubbed
Revealing the sore scratched skin beneath
It looked dead for days
Smelt dead for days
Rotten and powdery

The jolts or spasms
Were mechanical
As if willed only by nerves
Making the head leave the ground
The topside leg raise
As if death were prodding it unseen
Beckoning it to come.

Then the breaths were apparent
Three in quick succession for evey jolt
Breaths that inflated the rib cage
Of a young fox
Too young to look so withered
Like a rag left in the rain

In Peru I’d found a kitten
Curled up in a gutter
Just like those fake cats
with the breathing mechansim installed
‘the captains cat’
This little black kitten looked peaceful
Tail wrapped around it
The orange sunset of peru warming it
The eyes were hollow
The thing long dead dried and preserved
Mummified by the road
Red mites hidden in it’s face
Like it just calmly gave up
Picked a spot to watch the world by and died.

“what are you looking at?”

She was annoyed by my proclamations outside her garden
Of “damn” and “Jesus” for every prod by the unseen hand.

“I’ll ring my husband”

She seemed unfussed by the death throes of the fox

I longed to kill it
To end the dummy like spasming
But instead left
Wondering about death
Wondering if you’ll die alone
By a road side
Strangers cursing your breath
Sun and rain striking your skin.

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