Standing Fast: Fox Into Hedgehog

After these years of sniffing the air at hedges,
Leaping so gingerly as to leave no footprints,
Tiptoeing through streams to wash off my own scent
And walking welcome at night into the houses of hens,
My paws grow clumsy; my spine curls into a hoop;
These claws must be given over to scrabbling and scuttling.
No more of prancing. My snout, the air-taster,
Now stiffens itself for rooting. The silken ears,
The blazing tail, the shimmering pelt, gather up
The color of gray earth. No more of flight or pursuit.
Quarry for all comers, I crouch in furrows,
Keep away from the light, bristle at a footfall,
My body set up for surprise. Stand fast. Here. Now.
No call to run quick. I know what I know.