Its leg was not broken. It was not homeless.
It clenched in my hands, a living flinch.
You cannot love so much and live,
it whispered, its spines clicking like teeth.
I hid it from itself in a cardboard box.

Overnight it nibbled a hole and slipped away.
I cried so much my mother thought I’d never stop.
She said, you cannot love so – and yet
I grew to average size and amused a lot of people
with my prickliness and brilliant escapes.

from Take Me With You (Bloodaxe Books, 2005), © Polly Clark 2005, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

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Books by Polly Clark