hedgehog jammed

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An odd convergence of thoughts and imagery appears. That which appears in this Larkin poem (a hedgehog jammed into the lawnmower blades), that which I conjure up when I think of the Czech poem “Half a Hedgehog” and the dual thought of a Nemerov poem referring to “power mowers” and a book I read that dealt with language misunderstanding/mishearing (in which someone had misunderstood and written the term “paramour” as “power mower”).

Oddly, as irreverent as it may seem, I discovered this poem the same day as someone close to me lost a very close friend suddenly. I was preparing it to include here when I heard the news of this shocking death, and suddenly these words had new and urgent relevance: “the first day after a death, the new absence/Is always the same; we should be careful/Of each other, we should be kind/While there is still time.”

The Mower
Philip Larkin
The mower stalled, twice; kneeling, I found
A hedgehog jammed up against the blades,
Killed. It had been in the long grass.

I had seen it before, and even fed it, once.
Now I had mauled its unobtrusive world
Unmendably. Burial was no help:

Next morning I got up and it did not.
The first day after a death, the new absence
Is always the same; we should be careful

Of each other, we should be kind
While there is still time.

hedgehogs

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Half a Hedgehog
Miroslav Holub
The rear half had been run over,
leaving the head and thorax
and the front legs of the hedgehog shape.

A scream from a cramped-open
jaw. The scream of the mute is
more horrible than the silence after a flood,
when even black swans float
belly upwards.

And even if some hedgehog doctor were
to be found in a hollow trunk or under the leaves
in a beechwood there’d be no hope
for that mere half on Road E12.

In the name of logic,
in the name of the theory of pain,
in the name of the hedgehog god the father, the son
and the holy ghost amen,
in the name of games and unripe raspberries,
in the name of tumbling streams of love
ever different and ever bloody,
in the name of the roots which over-grow
the heads of aborted foetuses,
in the name of satanic beauty,
in the name of skin bearing human likeness,
in the name of all halves
and double helices, or purines
and pyrimidines

we tried to run over
the hedgehog’s head with the front wheel.

And it was like guiding a lunar module
from a planetary distance,
from a control centre seized
by a cataleptic sleep.

And the mission failed. I got out
and found a heavy piece of brick.
Half the hedgehog continued screaming. And now
the scream turned into speech,

prepared by
the vaults of our tombs:
Then death will come and it will have your eyes.