‘Bufo Bufo’ by Vicki Feaver

Bufo Bufo

Clown’s name for the creature
in my cellar. I give him gladly

the one room I don’t want –
sodden cardboard, wet dark,

the gluey varnish of slugs.
What he eats: dollops

of glassy, yellow-grey meat,
host to scavenging mites,

the only things down here
to move fast. He creeps

over the floor’s uneven brick
as if movement is painful,

or crouches still, under the drip
from a leaking pipe, moist

and glistening, pumping
himself to bursting.

It’s spring, when toads smell their way
to water, and the females’ spawn

is strung in necklaces
of black-eyed beads.

But he’s my prisoner –
soft, warty stone

who at night swells
to the size of a man.
(from The Book of Blood, Cape 2004)
Vicki Feaver lives in Scotland and is currently working on a new collection, due out for her 70th birthday in 2013, Like a Fiend Hid in a Cloud.

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