Oh, he was a fine one, that dog fox;
still supple, warm, eyes not yet clouded
when the hunters brought him to me.
I quickly posed him for a rapid sketch
as old Madam Duval had described him,
full of life as he ran off with her best pullet.
You could say I paid tribute to that thief.
before he stiffened. But for the painting
I placed him hanging from the shouldered
staff, near invisible against the dark coat,
followed by tired dogs, their pads sore
from racing though sharp icy snow.
Then I laid out the whole of the village
in the distance below, the happy skaters
unaware of the contrast I created between
the quick and the dead. They I reduced
to distant footnotes, the same treatment
I meted out to arrogant Icarus, foolish boy.
Â© Catherine Nicholls
Picture No. 10208294, Peter Breugel the Elder/Hunters in the Snow, image copyright Mary Evans
Catherine Nicholls has lived in the Dark Sky Reserve of the Exmoor National Park for over 20 years. Without the diversions of bright lights and shopping malls she quickly turned to writing poetry to while away the long winter nights. Before moving to Exmoor she farmed in mid-Devon for many years. She is a member of the North Devon Poets @NorthDevonPoet.