His hair has grown the shock of sunflowers after rain.

The smell of those threshed stalks, nosegay against variant ills—

he also loves the man-fox after musty plum tomatoes

which, having brazened wooden stakes, now devolve seed-ward.

How his mother swells uneasily with every moon,

how she trails stale chocolate wrappers, coffee dregs

luring whatever’s hungry and curiously about.

Mornings she sweeps red golds from the stoop as he crouches in desire

his fox will reappear. These nocturnal dreams are an open door,

white ruff soaking up detritus cast by meteorites and stars.

Too young to stay awake all night, he’s been promised she will fetch him

at a pale quarter to five, bring him a basket of boiled eggs

light sepia in craquelure. Then the recognition scene:

sharp teeth will seize his wrist leaving a faint mark

that can never truly fade. He, the fiercest boy

on the bleak suburban road, child unrehearsed in loss,

can watch the animal devour yolk and shell. It is already and done.

A pewter sky rings harshly before the fall deluge

while the fox that threads its way beyond the fences

does what wild creatures do. Leaves a hint, a question

small puffs of incandescent fur, narrow footprints in the mud.

 

Carol Alexander

Carol Alexander is the author of Fever and Bone (Dos Madres Press), Environments (Dos Madres), and Habitat Lost (CMP). Her work appears in About Place Journal, Another Chicago Magazine, The Common, Denver Quarterly, Mudlark, RHINO, Southern Humanities Review, The Summerset Review, Third Wednesday, Verdad, and elsewhere. With Stephen Massimilla, Alexander co-edited the award-winning anthology Stronger Than Fear: Poems of Empowerment, Compassion, and Social Justice (Cave Moon Press, 2022). A new collection of Alexander’s poetry is forthcoming in 2024 from Glass Lyre Press.

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