Saturday, September 22, 2012

Fox and Sixpence

Mysterious and invisible threads which link human beings with other other living creatures  turn up in life as in fiction when you least expect them. In a recent poem I described how, following the funeral of my late wife a butterfly completely black from wingtip to wingtip appeared out of nowhere in my house, notwithstanding the January weather outside.

That was 25 years ago. Since  then several times I have met animals in the wild and in domestic circumstances which have provided similar cause for thought and speculation. Of those the oddest involved a fox I met one summer evening on a path across some fields near the village of Penshurst in Kent. We spotted each other almost simultaneously when the path took me through a gap in the hedge between two fields. She, for judging by its size I took the animal to be a vixen, was scratching at the ground as though trying to unearth a root. When she saw me, she looked up and gave me a steady stare.  Her sharp eyes showed curiosity rather than fear and seemed to reflect the sadness of separation which often occurs between beings unequipped  to communicate with one another. Then as though she had no alternative in a sort of desperation she trotted off and vanished into a thicket.

Driven by curiosity myself I walked over to the spot where she had been digging with her paws. Something shone in the scuffed earth. With my own inadequate paws I managed without difficulty to extract what turned out to be a coin. It was a silver sixpence, the equivalent in modern money, of two and a half pee, as I recall from my childhood, an item of pocket money not to be sneezed at. Still visible was the head of King George V and the date of the coin, 1933,  the year of my birth.

I still have it, polished from long residence in my pocket and, yes, as I write and  remove my hand from the screen for a moment,  it is still there, a thin, metal disc, a reassurance of some kind, though of what precisely I do not know.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, good story! I like the difference between this one and the others you've given us thus far. All good, all different, all a pleasure to read.

    Thank you, Joe.