Straight Talk from Fox, Mary Oliver

Not sure if it is lockdown or just that we are at home more so noticing but there has been A LOT of fox action around our neighbourhood this January. And I mean A LOT. Including finishing off our last two chickens, although that was our mistake in leaving the side of their hutch open. The action of the foxes has proved to be a good biology lesson as part of remote schooling too! Buoyed up on hormones they do seem bolder than ever and much less cautious of us than they normally are. On our nightly walks we have heard the foxes carousing in the forest and the kids have been worried about our very small dog going out into the garden alone at night after pairs of gleaming eyes have been spied in the darkness reflecting the torchlight. I always find foxes slightly magical and subversive. I’ve also been focusing on mindfulness and being in the moment this month, which is, I think, echoed here. So for this week’s poem I have chosen ‘Straight Talk from Fox’ by Mary Oliver.

‘Straight Talk from Fox’

Listen says fox it is music to run
over the hills to lick
dew from the leaves to nose along
the edges of the ponds to smell the fat
ducks in their bright feathers but
far out, safe in their rafts of
sleep. It is like
music to visit the orchard, to find
the vole sucking the sweet of the apple, or the
rabbit with his fast-beating heart. Death itself
is a music. Nobody has ever come close to
writing it down, awake or in a dream. It cannot
be told. It is flesh and bones
changing shape and with good cause, mercy
is a little child besides such an invention. It is
music to wander the black back roads
outside of town no one awake or wondering
if anything miraculous is ever going to
happen, totally dumb to the fact of every
moment’s miracle. Don’t think I haven’t
peeked into windows. I see you in all your seasons
making love, arguing, talking about God
as if he were an idea instead of the grass,
instead of the stars, the rabbit caught
in one good teeth-whacking hit and brought
home to the den. What I am, and I know it, is
responsible, joyful, thankful. I would not
give my life for a thousand of yours.

From Red Bird Poems (Beacon Press, 2008).

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