Snared by tradition
We found the old snares in the barn,
thin nooses of twisted wire
that slid easily through a loop at the end.
We were boys excited by the possibilities of action,
and the long tradition of the hunt;
we set the snares in gaps in the hedges around.
Early next morning, from the bedroom window,
we could see two grey shapes
lying at the far edge of the next field.
The excitement of the catch took us there:
the two hares had likely been chasing each other
through the fields and hedges, courting.
The scrabbled earth around, and bits of fur,
indicated their strangulated end had been slow;
the deep embrace of the noose was our aim, not theirs.
Released from the wire snares, we carried them back;
held by the back legs, the bodies were a dead weight,
and the heads swung loosely, with bloodied necks.
Aaron Hart the butcher came to look at some beasts
and we sold the hares to him for half a crown;
somebody somewhere ate them, maybe jugged.
We checked the snares regularly after that
but always found them empty;
we were boys, growing up in the tradition of the hunt.