Body a cigar
gliding through hills,
it has something of the fox
and of the cat—
discreet and russet,
an outsider lying low,
named after an African animal
by a former colonial power.
Beneath the long bonnet
a snake pit of hoses
given to hissing
on hot summer days,
the interior a frayed glove
with leather seats well-thumbed
and smelling of neglected libraries,
dash of walnut sans airbag
holding a kernel of the old country.
Like any feline it is a predator
best kept in at night,
the wide stance of its carbon paw print
making it the natural enemy
of the natural world.
Yet it has a memory of northern forests,
yearnings to search out old shires.
You can imagine a fondness
for Keats and Ted Hughes,
scarlet runners and poached artichokes,
pre-glasnost maps of Europe.
It watches repeats of The Avengers on pay TV,
a cashmere rug thrown over its boot,
votes radical Tory and dreams of being driven
by Roger Moore. It thinks Miles Davis
should have stayed away from keyboards.
It calculates in imperial.
In Melbourne’s fist of traffic
it is outmanoeuvred by SUVs,
shrugged off by tinny Korean hatchbacks.
Turning the wheel to lock
earns a whine of protest
from the wide circle of its heart.
But on this blonded peninsula,
Sheffield six cylinders purring,
it leans into the road,
aged athlete loping gracefully,
hoovering past thin pastures, a cattle yard,
manure at 50 cents a bag.
As an Anglophile fog unfurls
across drought-stripped paddocks,
cells of coastal cancer are dividing
on Jaguar skin.