In the Field

by Michael Madonick


The red fox flashes in the field, and the mind

wants to stop it. Run the catalogue of what
it knows, put a hen-house, chicken wire, a farmer
with his shotgun, dogs baying in their ribs
right behind it. It’s flash cards, kindergarten,
the pull string toy that makes animal sounds.
What sound does a fox make? It’s a comet’s
tail in the high dark of the sky, running
the thin woods, gone in a whisker. Cat
on fire, who stole the eggs, the fence needs
crimping, it runs on its toes. It’s the blood
the synapse lights, roman candles, electric
in the skull, sly as the moon ducking in clouds.
Friction likes a partner, side-kick to flame, the boa
of its tail, incorrigible as snake. The thing’s
a long way gone before you know it, before
the fox is a fox flashing in the field. The mind
wants to stop it, run it over, press repeat, treat it
like the prom corsage, play it till it’s done, the music
of its running, running like a fox, leap and jaunt,
leap and jaunt, more leap than run. Sometimes
the mind cannot hold what it sees, plays it in its sleep,
dreams it in the night, works it in its crib. The heart,
the heart, my friend, the fox is the heart, and the mind
cannot stop it, it’s flashing in the field.

This poem was originally published in Poetry to the People.