The Wolf & Taurus

Joseph Smith

Wolf running to trees

excerpt from The Wolf

 

From up ahead of me through the trees I can hear the sound of hooves crunching on snow. Everything else is silent.  I stand with my breath clouding around my head in the cold air, not moving as I listen, not seeing anything except the white ground and the dark spiked tree trunks.  I can smell the beast.  Its scent is clean and strong and rises up from the cooler smells of the forest, enticing me, calling me towards it.  It cannot be far away, but the trees grow so thickly here that I cannot see it and so I move forwards, walking with delicate steps between the trees, all so quietly that only a mouse sleeping in its burrow beneath where my paws land might open an eye, to close it a moment later as I pass.

 

Over the sound of the beast’s hooves comes a snort, short and loud and in this silent forest like thunder.  It must be large, this one, as my pointed ears not only hear the sound that breath made from the beast’s nostrils, but from where it began, deep in a wide chest from big powerful lungs.  I move forwards a little quicker.  It may have snorted to clear its nostrils because it senses danger.  The wind is in my favour and it will not have smelled me yet, and though I am still moving as silently as the gentle wind itself, these beasts have powers I do not understand.  If it thinks it is in danger the hunt may well be over before it has begun.

 

The Wolf First Edition

'It is a daring novel that achieves that most elusive of challenges - changing the world a little for the reader.'

Francesca Segal, The Observer

Prancing bull

excerpt from Taurus

 

The boy stops speaking softly to me, but I can see in his movements that he is thinking about me again, or something like me.  In the little flick of his fingers, in the flexing of the spine where it is attached by arm to the post and ground, and in the direction of his gaze and the eyes themselves – in all of these movements I read signs of myself, as clear as if I were looking down into a huge trough to see an outline of head and horns in the water.  To look at him now is to feel an echo of what I am made of – not a thin reflection of sound but one strong enough to be confused with its origin – and I am gripped as I watch, as I see the things unfurl from him – the sunlight and shade, the colour of red wall and yellow earth, a man more like a bird than a man in bright colours and dancing in front of a bull, but far more a beast than I – and suddenly the dance is over, the man is no longer moving and arcing with beauty but has become part of the red wall, is sitting slumped in the dirt against it.  I look to the boy’s eyes, wondering if he will turn away and end this vision, but he doesn’t and I see what it is that makes him think this many times when he watches me, what it is that joins he and I in some way that nothing else does: it is the moment where the bull, quicker than a dog, as quick as a cat, skips forward as if without moving to catch the man on the end of his horns and lift him in the air, keeping him there by the movement that is now pushing them both forward before throwing him and turning away, the man continuing his flight to land against the wall and slump into the dirt.


I know that the blood that lifted that man is in me!

 

Taurus First Edition

'Like nothing you have ever read, except perhaps William Blake's daunting vision as articulated in "The Tyger" . . . There is a wonderful, soaring artistry at work . . . Taurus is a subtle morality play; beautiful, relentless and unforgettable'

Eileen Battersby, Irish Times