The Fox is Dead
From a distance it looks
like an ink blot
on paper. A mistake.
An interruption of the smooth
sand, a dark stain on the white
body of the beach.
My mother spots it first. Our footprints do not
match, do not even go in the same direction,
but for a while, we are walking the same beach.
I have been obsessed with foxes all my life,
envying their elegance, intelligence,
their colorful, sleek, and fashionable bodies.
But my totem is a bear, I am told. Defiant, I fill
my house with vulpine icons. I do not want a
large, lumbering, shaggy creature to define me.
But a bear is strong, my mother reminds me,
and doggedly protects her cubs. Yes, I
am capable of that. I am no fox-mother
who dances under the moon every night
garbed in well-groomed fur, while my children
huddle together in the den, alone and vulnerable.
It is smaller than I expected, and not the variegated
wonder I have worshipped. The water has uncomplicated
the cream-tipped apricot fur edged with chocolate
leaving only a mass of unpretentious, matted hair.
The sodden and diminished tail sways sorrowfully
as the moon sends the tide to wrest retribution.
Gaping, I watch the sea slowly swallow the corpse as
my mother, unable to confront this innuendo of her own
dissipation, leaves me on the beach, alone, for the last time.