Trails: Fox Prints and Frosted Grass.

The sun rose this morning over fields full of fox trails and scat and feathered leavings. These neat green squares of Staffordshire farmland may seem tamed, topped, flailed, cleared with guns and herbicides, but there remains a distinct whiff of wildness out there across the quiet fields, and it comes in on deadly, delicate paws. Even now, with the sun up and the two-leggeds out about their business, I hear her scream-bark at the edge of the wood. She sees Nelly and me, and smiles anyway; there is new ground to cover, pheasants to be stolen, new trails to be made. She reminds me that, although I have to leave the fields and go back to my desk, today I should try to be a little more Fox.

This seems the perfect morning for Lucille Clifton’s hypnotic poem A Dream Of Foxes.

Happy Trails…



Who can blame her for hunkering
into the doorwells at night,
the only blaze in the dark
the brush of her hopeful tail,
the only starlight
her little bared teeth?

and when she is not satisfied
who can blame her for refusing to leave,
Master Of The Hunt, why am i
not feeding, not being fed?


the coming of fox

one evening i return
to a red fox
haunched by my door.

i am afraid
although she knows
no enemy comes here.

next night again
then next then next
she sits in her safe shadow

silent as my skin bleeds
into long bright flags
of fur.


dear fox

it is not my habit
to squat in the hungry desert
fingering stones, begging them
to heal, not me but the dry morninngs
and bitter nights.
it is not your habit
to watch, none of this
is ourrs, sister fox.
tell yourself that anytime now
we will rise and walk away
from somebody else’s life.
any time.


leaving fox

so many fuckless days and nights
only the solitary fox
watching my window light
barks her compassion.
i move away from her eyes.
from the pitying brush
of her tail
to a new place and check
for signs. so far
i am the only animal.
i will keep the door unlocked
until something human comes


one year later

what if,
entering my room,
brushing against the shadows,
lapping them into rust,
her soft paw extended,
she had called me out?
what if,
i had reared up baying,
and followed her off
into vixen country?
what then of the moon,
the room, the bed, the poetry
of regret?


a dream of foxes

in the dream of foxes
there is a field
and a procession of women
clean as good children
no hollow in the world
surrounded by dogs
no fur clumped bloody
on the ground
only a lovely line
of honest women stepping
without fear or guilt or shame
safe through the generous fields.

By Lucille Clifton.




3 thoughts on “Trails: Fox Prints and Frosted Grass.

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