To be awake is to be awoken.
The sun is a small disc
that does not heat much
in the cold winter; and the dark
before it recedes has curled
the fox’s tail around him
so that he makes a rounded disc
in the old leaf litter, the woodpile
where he stays hidden in the snow.
To be full of food is to be lazy
for awhile. The mouse’s track
doesn’t call so strongly,
the scent of rabbit doesn’t urge
so deeply in the muscles
that can bound and leap through
snow and run barely leaving
pawprints, small, doglike, following
in a straight line to find its prey,
claws showing, sharp enough--
but now, having eaten, the fox has
the white snow as a blanket to lie on.
To live in the forest, the field
is to see the winter sun
as high as it can be almost
disappear in the great storm,
the white coating trees and dead grasses
and rocks and the rusty red fur
of the fox who walks silently,
more quietly than the fast-falling snow,
to his mate who is already growing
inside her the kits who will be born in spring.
Does it matter if we just drift
into dreaming when there is
so much to explore? The two foxes,
together, run across the field,
and are just about alongside each other
white-tipped tails flashing when they
become one for a moment,
like we all do, for a moment, in a dream.
To be perched on the telephone wires
near dusk like the row of pigeons
is to watch the lowering sun go pink,
flush, set a deep rose glow
on the stretch of sky that is tree-height
at the horizon. And the fox follows
a broken trail in the snow;
she stirs no twig or broken branch;
she is full of the color of the sunset,
from the tip of her ears to the tip
of her busy tail, and she is black
when the sun goes down.
At night when the unborn kits
move inside the mother fox,
stir against her, they wake her
from the kind of sleep that deepens
in the winter when no one roams
the coldest hour, and there is
no need to guard against him.
When the mother fox sleeps again,
the kits sleep with her. There is
a silent roar in the air, the last cry
and bark of the day, but look,
the fox is still, quiet, doesn’t move at all.
Gigi Marks lives in Ithaca, New York. Her poetry has appeared in many publications, including American Poets Against the War, The Atlanta Review, Best American Poetry, Green Mountains Review, Lilith, North American Poetry Review, Northwest Review, Poetry, Poetry Daily, Prairie Schooner, Southern Poetry Review, and others. Her first chapbook, What We Need, was published by Shortline Editions. A second chapbook of her poems, Shelter, was published by Autumn House Press in 2011. Most recently, her collection of poems Close By was published by Silverfish Review Press in Spring 2012. Close By was nominated for the National Books Critic Circle Award in Poetry in 2012. Recent poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize in Poetry for 2013.