blackbird online journal spring 2002 vol.1 no. 1



Fox Fire at the Changing Tree

The burning that must
have been coming from me—

these are lines I'm stealing
from someone else's poem, just after

I've resolved not to lie, not to steal
to live in my evergreen

integrity as long as I can manage it
I'm much like these foxes

gathered on a night whose stars
might be flakes of snow

They have their burning torches
to lift and bear

down the road, fully camouflaged
once they've put on the stolen forms

of pious pilgrims
The bare, spreading tree above them

is fit for owls to inhabit
when a savory hunger makes them take

deadly aim
on any small rustle in the dry leaves

That's their true nature
however haunting their melancholy cries

But the foxes—for the love of me
(and it's exactly that)

I can't see why
I shouldn't want to touch them, stroke them

I might just rub the ruddy silk
of their coats against my cheek

And often have, you tell me bluntly
That friction, however

slight, sufficient to make me
spit fire, gnash my teeth

and lunge for the soft parts of your body
lifting my chin moments after

to say hotly, I didn't mean to
I didn't sense it coming

As if I were the innocent one
blindsided, bloodied

(Ando Hiroshige, Fox Fire at the Changing Tree on New Year's Eve at Oji, woodblock print from One Hundred Famous Views of Edo)  

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