The precise distance at which
a dog’s bark dissolves
into nothing.

Much further, you might think,
in the snow-soft forests
of Scandinavia

than some dormitory suburb,
or a small town whose sleep
is still measured

by the hourly chime
of a steeple bell. But no.
Some nights, I’m startled awake

by the hack and grumble
of one or other hound
I thought I’d left behind.

Not close at hand,
but somewhere out, beyond,
and impossible to throw off the scent.



Matt Merritt is the author of three poetry collections and two natural history books, including The Elephant Tests  and A Sky Full Of Birds. He lives in Warwickshire.