A Dream of Foxes | Lucille Clifton


can blame her for hunkering 
into the doorwells at night, 
the only blaze in the dark 
the brush of her hopeful tail, 
the only starlight 
her little bared teeth? 

and when she is not satisfied 
who can blame her for refusing to leave, 
Master Of The Hunt, why am i 
not feeding, not being fed? 

the coming of fox 

one evening i return 
to a red fox 
haunched by my door. 

i am afraid 
although she knows 
no enemy comes here. 

next night again 
then next then next 
she sits in her safe shadow 

silent as my skin bleeds 
into long bright flags 
of fur. 

dear fox 

it is not my habit 
to squat in the hungry desert 
fingering stones, begging them 
to heal, not me but the dry morninngs 
and bitter nights. 
it is not your habit 
to watch, none of this 
is ourrs, sister fox. 
tell yourself that anytime now 
we will rise and walk away 
from somebody else’s life. 
any time. 

leaving fox 

so many fuckless days and nights 
only the solitary fox 
watching my window light 
barks her compassion. 
i move away from her eyes. 
from the pitying brush 
of her tail 
to a new place and check 
for signs. so far 
i am the only animal. 
i will keep the door unlocked 
until something human comes. 

one year later 

what if, 
entering my room, 
brushing against the shadows, 
lapping them into rust, 
her soft paw extended, 
she had called me out? 
what if, 
i had reared up baying, 
and followed her off 
into vixen country? 
what then of the moon, 
the room, the bed, the poetry 
of regret? 

a dream of foxes 

in the dream of foxes 
there is a field 
and a procession of women 
clean as good children 
no hollow in the world 
surrounded by dogs 
no fur clumped bloody 
on the ground 
only a lovely line 
of honest women stepping 
without fear or guilt or shame 
safe through the generous fields.


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