Finding him indistinguishable
from the current
they named him water.
Adrift, a raft of kits and dogs,
a family, bevy, lodge
Death of otters
wears his name and Mr Spicer’s
on a luggage tag.
The myth of lutra lutra
reconstructed from its kill
its waste its bones.
What Mr Spicer could not use
in 1844, without the skin or skill
to remake it.
Otr in his form of choice gorged on fish
till Loki did for him and filled his skin
with gold instead.
All around your head the rainclouds
like an umbrella, memento of your one
encounter with an otter.
Seven black otters and the dratsie king
grant you a wish to make them free.
Chuck His Majesty
under the chin,
snitch his skin
the black black deeps.
St Cuthbert in the brine
waist deep endures because they come
to warm him with their breath
dry him with their fur.
Fish or flesh? What rabbit slips through streams?
Otter and chips is safe on Fridays
for your soul.
Full of play and gladness,
courage in duress,
four-footed, noblest soul
Evacuated from Warwickshire banks
with a label to bring him safe home
become, preserved a century,
a little model of a gas mask.
An otter’s skull, from Spicer’s taxidermy workshop in 19th century Warwick, was an exhibit in ’60 Years of Collecting’ at the Market Hall Museum, Warwick.