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.