Under garden and field, through humus and loam, moles tunnel
earth miners nose-diving through truffle brown
snaffling and snouting the ground in swims through soil
carving subterranean highways with shovel feet.
Nosing up towards brilliantine stars they are too blind to see
their neat little heaps punctuate green with soft sifted earth
flagrantly ignoring our boundaries, true ramblers knowing
that under turf all earth is free, moles criss-cross our land
nudging up little piles of disregard.
To be a mole-catcher was once deemed a profession
most worthy, hunting these Jersey ploughmen
with their digger feet and squiffy eyes and velveteen sheen
and even a cream-white breed in some parishes. *
Perhaps the mole-catcher would once have worn a waistcoat
made of their neat little skins, as he followed moles crossways
via their uncharted paths, knowing leaving a few to survive
would protect his trade, becoming wise in their ways.
And perhaps it is true that on moonlit nights
after a pint or two, my father went out to dig a few mounds
to augment their few, and when postcards came
warning the moles had returned, perhaps he regretted
the traps and the poison-blue worms he slipped
into their caves
for he knew that one day he too would be
in l’rouoyaume des taupes, the kingdom of moles **
berthed deep in the berried leafy clod
pressed tight with fusty soil muffling his ears
not hearing their digger feet scratching the ground
nuzzling close, tunnelling free.
* a cream-white form occurred sparingly in several parts of Jersey chiefly in St Lawrence and St Martin... Frances Le Sueur, A Natural History of Jersey, 1976.
** dans l’rouoyaume des taupes (in the kingdom of moles) is a Jèrriais euphemism for being dead.
This poem was a runner up in the Mslexia Women's Poetry Competition 2013.