You cannot tell how fear
will cleave your body
until your turn comes.
They say a hare screams
louder than a hungry baby

but no scream reached me
that still November morning
as I watched from my window,
attracted by movement on the hill:
twelve men, long shadows

scattered in a dance or game,
an ancient form of chess
or hunt the cailleach.
They stalked the rushy slope,
high-stepped in and up,

tighter and closer,
until they were over the brow,
grouped behind a far stone wall.
I imagined the low tones, bare talk,
thought it was all done

until they appeared again, the hunt
not over yet, figures walking
the old green road, stooped
with the weight of poles and nets,

I looked back to the headland,
scanned the clumps of bent,
the short-cropped grass,
the hillside
desolate in the slanting light.