spoon worms scale worms which-end's-the-head-or-tail worms shovelheads and paddles worms with fibre-optic frills deep-sea-bed worms Rasta-headed dread-worms sulphur salt and ice worms who almost nothing kills... kind worms, blind worms whom no one has seen or could love how do you work, so dark, so cold a mile below as delicate as seamstress fingers, to unpick the knots of bone? ... swaying like a pale bouquet of petals, the worm-flowers grow.
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... not white like the snow, more moon-panther or silvery cloud-cat with her ripple-patterns melting as (oh, but she's beautiful) you stare while valley mist whirls up and blows between the boulders, or the sun breaks through and all the edges are a smattering of shadows, a glint on wet rock. Now she's still, crouched. Now... sprung. There she goes ledge to ledge, bound by bound, as stones go rattling to the scree below and wild goats scatter. She has one marked. That one. (Play the chase scene slow as films do, as if this might be for ever, these last moments the poor prey will know.) But it's off, the scraggy old big-bottomed tahr — stumbling, you'd think, falling — no, think again, as with rubbery fantastic poise it leaps (there is a half mile drop below) and catches itself, teeters like a tightrope clown... leaps, snatching inch-wide footholds with clattery hooves, down — leaving leopard stranded, panting, stumped. Why are we so in love with beauty, with its claws and teeth, as though this is its story, not our own and the goat's — that plucky comedy played out through centuries between the sheer drop and the killing snow?