The Friday Poem on 07/04/23
We chose ‘Fox’ by Rachel Spence to be our Friday Poem this week because the poem, like the animal at the centre of it, is arresting and evocative. The fox in this poem is an elusive, elemental creature, and she throws the hard-edged human bustle and business of the city into sharp relief. This fox exists on her terms, not ours – she won’t appear to order, and she doesn’t embrace the mystical status the poet half-wants to give her. She seems to exist outside time, unseen and all-seeing, but she’s also just one scared vixen hiding in a pipe. ‘Fox’ is a poem which poses necessary questions to our human-centric viewpoint and to the myths that we build around animals to satisfy ourselves.
For M (who calls me Lita)
A fox on a wet autumn night outside the British Museum
fleeing into a gas pipe as I chivvy you out of the building
into the rush-hour rainshine of car metal, headlights,
trampled leaves. I’m several steps ahead when
you shout “Lita!”. And I stop. And you shout, “Fox!”.
And I turn. At the word’s promise of wildness.
Of something feral. And we wait.
Don’t know how long for if I know
one thing it’s that fox has her own time.
Perhaps she was always there, poised on the brink
of her refuge – exact, minimal, radiant in her lack
of surplus. Perhaps I was always here, longing
to tell you her eyes remind me of rocks I once saw
in a mountain stream. How if you looked closely
you’d see words etched on their skins by priests
who were also poets. But she resists. Refuses
to be anywhere but there, scared, doubling back
into her tube’s tundra. And I know if I were
to kneel down, peer in, shine torchlight over
every inch of every curve I wouldn’t see her
though her eyes drill me, down to the bone.