all around. On islands, red fur, gray, dusky black, shades of autumn leaves, eyes amber and unafraid, standing in grasses, waiting for us.
I found the fox inside me, curling up in twigs and fur, my sharpened teeth and hunger.
I burrowed in to protect us from the plague, but there was nowhere to run. Like flames in the forest,
it was all around, lives going up in smoke. I never left the forest. I trusted only familiar paths, familiar smells:
dirt, trees, beetles. Berries that stained our mouths. I drew poems in the dust. I grew a tail, I left foxfur wherever I went.
I don’t know how I will come back, or if I will. Our burrow now littered with bones and mushrooms, a home
or a place for the spirits of the dead. I could never outrun death; it is coming for us both. Enjoy the colors of this winter sunset,
the bare branches, the visits of other foxes, their cries in the night, the softness around us, the tenderness of endings.
-- Jeannine Hall Gailey is a poet with MS who served as the second Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington. She’s the author of six books of poetry: Becoming the Villainess, She Returns to the Floating World, Unexplained Fevers, The Robot Scientist’s Daughter, Field Guide to the End of the World, winner of the Moon City Press Book Prize and the SFPA’s Elgin Award, and the upcoming Flare, Corona from BOA Editions. Her work appeared in journals like The American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, and Poetry. Twitter and Instagram: @webbish6.