Fox Dreams of Her Daughter’s Iron Shoes
Another nightmare: the little vixen’s
fur gone mange, pads cracked and dry,
tail a droop of worn-out velvet
rusted with dust and moths’ decay.
A rooster hauling a full basket
of garlic from a witch’s garden
leads her daughter far away
from every place she once found beauty
and beauty once found her. Fox
follows footprints deep and dragging
on country roads of mud and oil;
it’s clear her daughter’s slowing down
and bare trees are roughly laughing.
Fox is sure she’ll never wake:
this time she will find her daughter
dead and cold with one eye open,
the rooster high up in a tree
that stinks of Hell as he calmly crows.
Fox Finds the Moon Half Empty
or half full, depending on her mood.
Sharp ivory against wide suede,
dips and hollows and ridges of dust
still protesting 1969, the men
who tried to claim her. Fox
knows the moon laughs last
against anyone’s interpretation.
Even this poem—pretend it’s not hers!
—daring to spell in four small letters
why night can bear to survive.
Fox Hears Them, Fireworks
celebrating a summer’s evening
as warm light wanes—sweet lilies dying
and blackberries saying goodbye. Fox
takes far walks whenever she can, sun
a friend to fur and skin and eyes
these months past solstice, late roses
reaching through raspberry thorns.
Who is touching flame to wick
as night so surely lengthens?
Fox tasted this very morning
three wild grapes from tumbling vines.
She listens to summer start to say
I am now but I won’t be then:
Fox feels it in her spine.
Fox Tells About the Darkest Fairies
“The complexities of the kitsune can beguile. A
writer can become lost in seeking to know her.”
One wears a deep red mask. Barks.
Another watches a swollen moon and
shapes her muzzle to a tiny O,
music from her slick dark tongue
dripping stars’ saliva. She-Whom-All
White-Tipped-Tails-Praise sits alone
on her hill of sorrow, nodding to see
ripe grapes piled high in her honor,
small rabbits slashed as they dream. Give me
more poems of the mountains’ purple
and far valleys that make you cry
she says. I’ll bless you. We three
will grant your every wish. All
you really have to do
is let us make you die.
Katharyn Howd Machan reads many fairy tales and many reworked fairy tales. Her office is hung with crystals that toss rainbows when the sky of Ithaca, New York is NOT gray.