Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Dreaming Fox--A Poem for Native American Heritage Month

I wanted to put another poem up for Native American Heritage Month, and I decided to post this one.

I’ve always taken for granted that I could see more of the natural world’s plants and animals, even in the city, than most other people I know here, who seem totally oblivious to a pair of golden eagles stunt-flying on the thermals overhead or the waddle of a beaver across a grassy knoll to his creek home. I know I owe this gift to my grandmother and aunt and uncle who taught me when I was young to pay attention to the land around me and its plant and animal inhabitants—and thus vastly enriched the rest of my life.

When the rest of my family erupted in chaos and violence, focusing on the natural world of which I was a part saw me through the pain and desperation. Nothing pulls me out of despair like going to water to see the dawn in and watch the dance of the real world behind the shabby drapery of made-up, pretend, commodified daily existence. 


Early on a Sunday walking
past a bank drive-through on a hill
above a creek running through the city
surrounded by a narrow band of wild growth
I see him and freeze
big dog fox stopped at the sight of me
one foot still in the air
tail of fire just brushing the uphill
shrubbery from which he came
we stand and stare
unable to move or breathe
his eyes staring into mine
against a background
murmur of morning traffic
neither of us supposed to be here
not me at this just-after-dawn-in-summer hour
not him in the middle of the city
curiosity more than fear
behind his big eyes I had always
thought foxes had small close-together eyes
from cartoons or wildlife films or something
like that but his are set attractively
distant from each other
an intelligent face staring
me down wanting me to turn
and run from the predator
he must have a den nearby
with mate and kits so he will stand
against me forever
if need be he must be afraid
he knows humans are dangerous
to his kind especially
if he lives here in the heart of the city he must
dread the moment he will have to take
me on so many times his size
and probably with noisy metal weapons
against his needle teeth and claws
feeble in the world of cars motorcycles sirens
thrown rocks gunshots in this neighborhood he will
do it nonetheless I watch him set down his foot
lightly the muscles of his haunches tense
to spring in one final hopeless suicidal
attack to damage and drive me off
away from the den down among the brush
on the banks of the urban creek
hidden deep among the willows
I wish I could follow him down there
to see his mate and babies
he is right to fear me and attack
that human curiosity impulse to know
to somehow own experience fatal
to him if someone less harmless sees
and follows he hunkers down on his tail
silent no warning growl prepared
to launch himself through the air at my throat
only he will not be able to leap
that high from the lower ground
where he stands he will have to settle
for chewing my waist and legs
taking pity on us both
I back away slowly still
holding his vulpine gaze he turns back
to the shelter of the woods with only
one long look back
to make sure I don’t follow
to make sure I was real
one flash of movement and all trace
of red gone only undergrowth he might
never have stood and stared into my human eyes
so early on a Sunday morning
in the heart of the city
leaving us both to wonder
if we dreamed he of a human
who did no harm me of a fox
who did not run improbable dreams

© Linda Rodriguez 2016


  1. Oh, so lovely! We have just enough "decorative woods" around and through our neighborhood that we sometimes see deer and fox and other wild neighbors. It's beautiful when no harm results, just connection.

  2. The rhythm of your prose carries me to your poem. I move into it without stopping. I have no need to look for the fox or wonder where you are. I wait by the tree and listen to the drum, and sense the communal heartbeat.

  3. Thank your for that, Reine. I hope you're making good progress on your own writing. It's clear from this comment that you must. xoxoxo

    1. Thank you, Linda. I'm doing it at different times of the day instead of putting it off until I have a large block. xoxoxoxo

    2. That's what you've got to do, Reine. Use those open times as they come. If you get a big block of time, great, but you can write a lot in an hour here, half an hour there.