Poetry December 2010

Fox

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rangy loping swiveling left then right I’m thinking
nonchalant but the doves flutter up to the roof of the barn the crickets
leap from the grass like fleas a fox is in my yard-o my yard-o
plenty of songs in my head

to sing to my child’s child if she were here
she wakes in her crib and sings to herself
her brother her mother who hate to be alone laugh at this
odd happy child so like another child content in her wooden pen
with a pot a metal straw a lid a hole in the lid a glass hat
for the hole a metal basket with smaller holes
a hole the size of the straw for hours

I made the pieces fit then took them apart
then made them fit when I got tired I lay me down my little head
against the flannel chicks and ducks then slept then woke then took
the puzzle up my mother had another child sick unto death
she needed me to fall in love with solitude I fell in love
it is my toy my happiness the child of my friends
is never ever left alone asleep awake
pushing her wooden blocks around the rug they cannot bear
her least distress their eyes stay on their sparrow poor happy child

last year I startled a fox crossing the road the tail
more rust than red the head cranked forward facing me
it stopped stock-still as if deciding whether to hurry forward
or turn back it had a yellow apple in its mouth
and the little ones chew on the bones-o

Ellen Bryant Voigt’s most recent collection is Messenger: New and Selected Poems 1976–2006. She lives in Vermont and teaches at Warren Wilson College.
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