Sinéad McClure – Fox

McClure profile Dec 2020

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing, Volume One, December 2020.

Sinéad McClure is a writer, radio producer, and illustrator.  She has written and co-produced 15 dramas that have aired on RTEjr Radio.  Her poetry and prose have appeared in Crossways Literary Magazine, Meat for Tea—The Valley Review, Live Encounters Poetry & Writing, Poethead, and The Ekphrastic Review. She often revisits the theme of the natural environment in her work and has a particular interest in wildlife conservation.


Each night we feed them dry kibble
frozen in blocks
big enough to fit the jaw

even though we saw what they did here,
how they silently attacked the muscovies—
ribbon-red on icy days—
How they gathered in groups
to take the chickens.
Carried them away without leaving a feather.

When we stopped keeping poultry
they still called around
waited by the back door
orange tails tickling the concrete

until we gifted a salmon head,
a chicken leg, a piece of bread
and now every evening after
they are fed
a complete mix
to keep their red coats shiny.

They don’t trust us
they still approach in parcels.
One keeps watch
as the others wind their way
through the long grass.

They still know fox haters,
corrugated people
who carry shotguns
when sheep are yeaning.
Set traps deep in the forest
with teeth sharper
than any creature’s bite.

A fox cry up here
strikes fault lines through the mist
leaves an echo hanging in the hollows.
A deep wound
we dress each day,
until it heals.


You unfold;
a feathered accordion,
one wing to cast a shadow
now straightening to meet the other.

This iron-rusted riverbed
turns the willow leaves above it
from silver coins to golden fish
you wish you could catch.

Even sticklebacks evade you
as they tease insects
from the wet feet of creeping buttercups.

Bored by the wetland
you lazily raise your wings
strike out towards the mountain
pale legs dangling beneath you.


We had webbed feet once,
and when swimming was done
we’d pitch flat stones against the tide
let them ride the waves.

We quarrelled them out.
Flat, strung boats—
our hydrofoils
to skim the dips.

You said yours would slide to Holyhead
caught by tides, carried on the sneaking current.
Echolocate with basking sharks
who’d let it ride their backs.

You said seagulls would mistake mine
for a sleeping crustacean,
bring it back, to crack against the rocks.

So I would stand taller,
throw better.
Swing my arm, angled sharp,
a javelin,
my webbed feet
clinging to shale.

© Sinéad McClure