Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment

Foxes Among the Lambs

Ernest G Moll

Each morning there were lambs with bloody mouth,
Their tongues cut out by foxes. Behind trees,
Where they had sheltered from the rainy South,
They’d rise to run, but fall on wobbly knees.
And knowing, though my heart was sick,
That only death could cure them of their ills,
I’d smash their heads in with handy stick
And curse the red marauders from the hills.

Each afternoon, safe in a sheltered nook
Behind the smithy, I’d prepare the bait;
And I remember how my fingers shook
With the half-frightened eagerness of hate
Placing the strychnine in the hidden rift
Made with the knife-point in the piece of liver;
And I would pray some fox would take my gift
And eat and feel the pinch and curse the giver.

Each night I’d lay abed sleepless until,
Above the steady patter of the rain,
I’d hear the first sharp yelp below the hill
And listen breathless till it rang again,
Nearer this time; then silence for a minute
While something in me waited for the leap
Of a wild cry with death and terror in it;
And then – it strikes me strange now – I could sleep!

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