The Varying Hare by Tammy Armstrong Moore

May they have long lives, 
The hares that afford us a break 
From the language that would explain them.
—Dermot Healy 


I’d been away so long I’d forgotten 
.                         this province’s dark roads and deep pines
rarely bring down enough moon
         to lighten these shapeless forests of fog and dim—
all wrong edged
        all thicket-blind against the early starts 
to Hardscratch Road quarry runs
the lobster pound graders’ commute.  

This is when thresholds open briefly
.                         deviling hares 
.           low-bellied and filled with smoke
beyond the fox burying finger bones at the base of hackmatacks
the toad plodding through its cotton anniversary alone.  

But sometimes a small one
.          its escaping heel not quick enough
gets tangled in its own nest of nerves  


it jukes the cold-van ahead of us
.                          all leather ears and scut
.                          all riven bones and tantrum too late. 

Lording over the unrehearsed
I might say oh. I might say poor, stupid thing
now grease and bone, an orphaned sock, a tattered mitt.  

But after a moment, this passes:
       weather is weather
                      smoke is smoke
traffic moves on.   

But something childish still
      wants to stay in animal time 
.        to reassemble the fog’s glide
.                      weed the wood of misgivings and scuttles
so the hare’s long bones haven’t snapped
                    its heart hasn’t stopped
the harbour hasn’t skinned to ice and locked us in
and the dawn flits of the blackbirds’ ruby wick
.        calling aujourd’huiaujourd’huiaujourd’hui
have yet to begin.  

Copyright © Tammy Armstrong Moore. Originally published in The Varying Hare (Frog Hollow Books, 2018).

Tammy Armstrong has published two novels and four books of poetry, as well as the chapbook, The Varying Hare (Frog Hollow Press 2018). Her work has also recently won the iYeats International Poetry Prize, Geist’s Postcard Story Contest, Prairie Fire‘s Bliss Carman Poetry Prize, the Cafe Writers Poetry Competition, and is currently a finalist for the National Magazine Awards. In autumn 2018, she will be a Fellow at the International Writers’ and Translators’ House in Latvia. She lives in a lobster fishing village on the south shore of Nova Scotia.