A Fox as Fey Totem

by Laurie Byro
Babilu
Honorable Mention, April 2016
Judged by Joan Colby


For DH Lawrence

Why does the fox that divides the grass tempt me so?
Hasn’t the black whip of the snake hardened my heart?

Left behind, I seem to have a knack for abandonment.
A coven of vixen skulks from its den, stealthy and mad

as dreams. They are a brown crust of sleep that fades
into red-ribbon sunrise. These feral children summon

me; my soul is a dark forest. Like any forsaken creature,
I lap up my philosophy of blood. I have no conscience:

I seek out these scarlet whores as I name my unborn children.
And you, Fox about to disappear into mist, a red gash

of autumn still asleep on my chin. You have charmed me into
embracing my savage self. They call me the disciple of Rasputin,

the Godson of Caliban. Is love such a fiendish discipline: my beard,
pelt red, my dog’s head throbbing scandal, my heart drenched

in Holy wine? I am beguiled by sly brides. I have been reluctantly corrupted.
Oh, to be surrounded by vixen in the seductive tapestry of trees.

I have not confessed my intent, nor left my warm bed
of dreams to meet them among a sentinel of fir. If you examine

my crooked heart, you shall see I am both beast and master,
gamekeeper and vixen, a rifle and a thieving fox.


Lawrence’s animal poems are invoked in these lyrical lines in which the poet embraces the fox, the snake, the dog, and feral children to, as he puts it, “examine my crooked heart.” --Joan Colby

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