I found a bobcat dying in the road
and stole the tattered remnant
of its soul.
I hunkered down and leaned into its last
sour breath, to drink it in:
I tasted blood and catpiss and a thread
of spirit in my throat, like gasoline.
I was the Alpha, driving in the rain
from town to town, unravelling the gospel.
I was the Omega, falling asleep at the wheel
and travelling on unharmed, through dreams of musk
and fur, no final wave
of son or husband buried in my hands,
my blood exchanged for fire, my thoughts for stone.
—John Burnside, from Black Cat Bone (Jonathan Cape, 2011) Winner of the T.S. Eliot Poetry Prize for 2011.