The fox boy



The young man waved his family off and watched them drive away.
On his face was fixed a smile but his heart was tinged with grey.
With a sadness in his spirit and a tear in his eye,
He took himself outside so he could contemplate the sky.
 
All around him nature crawled and buzzed and hummed and flew.
Crickets bathed on blades of grass amidst the evening dew.
Deer roamed the garden and the woods beyond the gate,
And farther out, the howling of a fox without a mate.
 
The young man heard the howling and he felt the fox’s ache.
It was deep just like his own, and made his soul’s foundations shake.
So he got up from the bench and crossed the dewy twilit lawn
Knowing, somewhere in the woods, he’d find the place where he was born.
 
The branches, black, above him arced in bolts across the sky.
The air was blue and laden and the clouds about to cry.
The bracken, dense and musky, seemed to tower up around him
As he walked into the depths wishing darkness would surround him.
 
Further on he pushed into the most forgotten spaces.
Gnarly trunks with pitted sockets watched with solemn faces.
And still the howling rushed between the trees and in his heart
Until he fell in screaming agony, his centre pulled apart.
 
Writhing on a bed of needles, clawing at his chest,
The young man yanked his boots off.  Then he tore away his vest.
He ripped his trousers down and kicked his legs till they were free.
And naked as his birthday he curled up beneath a tree.
 
Moonlight fell in pools of sliver, dappling the ground.
The wind was gently playing a cacophony of sound:
Rustlings and murmurs and the creek of ancient trees,
And the breathing of the young man as he crouched on hands and knees.
 
“What was that?” he asked himself.  “A rabbit or a stoat?”
He dropped his shoulders quickly and he bristled up his coat.
“Come on, rabbit.  Come this way.  I’m hungry and you’re mine!
“I know exactly where you are.  Just give me one more sign.”
 
And there it was: a flicker and a tuft of greyish fur.
The moon lit up their stage and they erupted in a blur.
The rabbit, quick and agile in leaps and flicks and darts,
And the fox boy on her tail, seeking out her softest parts.
 
In a flurry of confusion, as the moon was clouded over,
The fox boy lost his prey, lost his footing and fell over.
He sat upon his haunches with his back-bone arched and high.
He filled his lungs with night-time air and howled into the sky.
 
The cloud-line seemed to shudder as the sound flew up and out,
And the fox boy, now exhausted, let the night air fill his snout.
And as he lay, inhaling in the quiet of the glade,
He smelt a second scent that seemed to dance and to parade.
 
He’d never smelt a smell so pure, so delicate and true.
So he followed with his nose, his back and shoulders cloaked in dew.
Through the woods he slunk, his ears pricked; his eyes aglow,
His heart was galloping but his pace was calm and slow.
 
Eventually he reached a fence; beyond it lay a lawn.
To his right he heard the rustling of wind amidst the corn.
And as he crossed the threshold into human ways of being,
His eyes grew dim, adjusting to the human way of seeing.
 
He lifted up a forepaw but his eyes perceived a hand.
He could feel his humanity reminding him to stand.
And so the young man stood – naked, vibrant and bright.
As he strode across the garden he looked back into the night.
 
And there, beyond the fence in the fading light of Moon,
Sat a lady fox just watching him; she hoped he’d come back soon.
He watched her too, for twenty minutes.  Then he turned away.
He slipped inside and closed the door as sunrise brought the day.

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