Tuesday, January 12, 2010

January foxes



The pond fish hang beneath the floating ice,
and toads hunch like pebbles
in earthen forms under black plastic;
cold- and tepid-blooded things,
held in a torpid equanimity of snow.

Inside our fences, I've seen the tracks of foxes -
they must have climbed over the mesh -
I've heard them too, as I've stood outside at night,
feeling ice crystals compact beneath my feet.

The house behind me glowed red as wine, or as a vein,
gold as a honeyed hive, stood solid, brown as bread, yet
a few bare paces made a distance from it, nearer
the glassy strands of frozen roads, the wide blue bands
of snowbound fields, and shreds of blue-black woods.

Their call is hard to name: bark, yelp, scream...
jagged as breaking ice, chill to freeze marrow,
a cry that pities nothing, least of all itself,
harsh, horny, hungry as they are, the January foxes.

Out in the night blue snow, the red fox blood
scalds through famine and through desolation;
seized in their own rank heat, they couple
in the leafmould's crackle, through ice-strewn streams,
in ruts and stones and stubble,
and fallen trunks of dead and hollow trees.

12 comments:

Setu said...

Splendid! I'll think of these sensitively wrought lines next time I come actoss one of my auburn neighbours (living in bushes next door).

Fire Bird said...

Strong images - I see, feel, hear...

Crafty Green Poet said...

very vivid, lovely...

herhimnbryn said...

I can see...

HKatz said...

Lovely post - I'm always on the look out for good poems.

I liked these lines especially:

a cry that pities nothing, least of all itself,
harsh, horny, hungry as they are, the January foxes.

and

toads hunch like pebbles
(having had pet toads, this just struck me as so right; they do hunch that way and look that way)

and also loved "leafmould's crackle".

Rouchswalwe said...

The unmoving fish and toads versus the living, breathing foxes ~ wonderful to ponder in the January night. The icy pond versus the warmth of the house ~ powerful image.

Plutarch said...

Am I right in thinking that dog foxes and vixens make quite different noises? In our urban setting I have often heard the screaming of what I have taken to be a vixen, and the brief double bark of what I have taken to be a dog fox. Both are disturbing if you do not know what they are. But the noises made by anything wild in an over civilised world is somehow encouraging. There is a need for wildness.

Barrett Bonden said...

Never has there been a greater temptation to stop chasing foxes, observing fish and contemplating toads and get in where all this is happening:

The house behind me glowed red as wine, or as a vein,
gold as a honeyed hive, stood solid, brown as bread


I take personal instruction from this line:

Out in the night blue snow, the red fox blood

loving the symmetry of the balanced pairs of adjectives, conscious of the distance I have to travel before I pick up the instinct to look for effects like this. The deeper the snow the greater the poetry and the more profound the lesson. Chapeau

Lucy said...

Thank you, dear readers!

Foxes here are quite shy, I always feel quite privileged to see one. But the snow makes it more evident that they are clearly about, as it does with many things.

I tend to assume it is the vixens that make the blood curdling screamy noise, but I wasn't altogether sure. Also, I have to admit to a degree of unwillingness to put the words 'horny' and 'vixens' in the same post, as I can imagine the kind of Google searches that might lead here! Though as I don't do any kind of stats which would tell me about this I don't know why this would worry me...

Snow does make the wild wilder.

christopher said...

What a lovely poem, my friend. It inspired me to reply, a companion piece. We have no foxes, not that I know of but the other night I caught a young raccoon on my bathroom skylight playing with a small cone from the evergreen that overhangs my roof. He was draped across the edge, stretched out and then fully on the skylight, chasing the cone with his amazing little hands. I had a full view of his underside while he pondered the meaning of things before he went on his way. Awake at 3 AM is sometimes a privilege.

Night Visitor

You look back over
your shoulder at me like I
would at you were I
the one bounding off
in shoulder high moonlit snow.
You say nothing now
though I have heard you
snuff at my ragged edges
and felt your hot breath
in back of my house,
where you searched, but not for me.
Then your tail winks out.

Dick said...

In the midst of the unremitting snow, this really hits the spot. I love the contrast drawn between the oasis of the house - 'gold as a honeyed hive' - and the bleak world of the 'blue-black woods'.

Michelle said...

How compelling, Lucy. I can feel the snow crunching beneath my boots.

May 2010 bring you everything you need - and much inspiration and poetry! x