Tarn W. Painter-MacArthur – The Fox

photo credit: Rich Herrmann


Tarn W. Painter-MacArthur
The Fox

ribbons through the tree-line –
a stroke of red as she darts
from shadow into moonlight–
stalking, maybe, a squirrel
or rabbit skirting fresh snow.
Whatever the prey it’s never
the fox they see – all narrow
eyes and teeth in wake – filling
the wood like a light loosened
through the trees’ high crooks.
Midnight and again footfall breaks
silent as a dream along the yard –
only the same brief flash of red
receding. You can watch all night,
try to remember the one time
you saw her, poised over tatters
of a life you couldn’t recognize.
The way tonight I rise from bed
and, tracing her tracks like my own
lost steps, find I’m walking up
the drive to my childhood home,
past the bare thicket where I gathered
berries for my father to jar –
telling me stories of how animals,
years later, will return half-starved
to the same shadow of the same tree,
called to what they left in one
of a lifelong chain of places.