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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

DAVID HASKINS - Winner of Individual Poem Award at the Literary Awards

Urban Fox

In the filtered light from a street lamp
at the end of a cobbled alley
she hunches down to watch me
and seeing I mean her no harm
slinks to the farthest corner
her stealth drenched in shadow.

Long ago the city fortress
called us from the starved land.
Now it brings the wild among us,
miles from forest, field and brook,
this ragged waif plagued with mange,
opportunist fallen from grace.

A disenfranchised citizen-savage
scavenger of human refuse,
she prowls the markets of south London
to feed her mewling kits, their den
warmed with hair she pulled from her skin.

She shows no pride in owning the night -
like a beleaguered spy come in from the cold
or some old drunk nestled under cardboard -
depending on no one’s kindness,
as fearless as the rats she beds down with
and, if she has to, eats.

I want her to be the fox the prince’s
horse and hound and redcoat riders
hunt around my Tiffany shade,
never run to ground or torn apart
when blood rises in the teeth of dogs.

Or the glass-eyed fox my late aunt draped
around her neck at Sunday service,
the perfect tail curved down one shoulder,
head and front paws down the other,
watching me reach up to touch
the soft seductive fur without
interrupting her solemn prayers.

I don’t belong in this survivor’s street;
for now she knows she has the upper hand.
One day she’ll chew her black boot off
to free her from a leg hold trap
and all her cunning will bleed out slow
the wild, waning in her slit eyes
the mysterious sisterhood of fox.

Originally published in The Saving Bannister 25, published by the Canadian Authors Association, Niagara.

Editor's note:  Congratulations David for winning the Individual Poem category at the Hamilton Arts Council's Annual Literary Awards Gala!  Well done!

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