Today's poem is by Michael Symmons Roberts

Man in a Fox Suit

Thin red hide, flea-ridden, caked
in mud and cack, thorn-snagged

he limps at dawn through bare-backed
woods, neck ricked and panic rising.

Tongue is purple, marked with plum
and elder, no, his mouth is brackish,

stained with bird blood. At odds
with the wild, this double-double spy

has tried to feign a genome mapped
to brushwood, amber, carrion.

He lives in terror of the true dogs
tearing him to pieces in defence

of mate or prey, to win his ground.
Vixen screams (in season now) beleaguer

his weak heart and I, sole witness, see
him rear up as a man, unlock a house

where he will stretch out in a warm
white bed and cast his rust coat

like an old rug on the floor.
He cannot help but hear the dog fox

after him with dry staccato barks,
rattling through skeletons of trees.

Fox in a Man Suit

Masked, gloved, brush tucked flat
against her back, faint with heat

this vixen is silent at soirées,
attentive to talk of defence, the public purse.

Emissary from the wild woods, agent
from the other side, she shakes her head

at wine, at canapés, she gags on human
stench, their meat and sweat.

When taxis come, she slips through kitchens,
drops to all fours (still in black tie),

sprints along the back streets
like a feral duke until she meets the edgelands

where — rubbed on the shuck of a tree —
her man-skin peels off

like a calyx and the sleek red flower unfurls.
Tongue drinks in the cold,

nose down in leaf mould, deep rush and tow
of attachment, of instinct. I, the only witness,

take this for a resurrection (body sloughed
and after-life as fox-soul), so I watch

in awe and slow my breath until
she catches sight and howls and howls.

Copyright © 2008 Michael Symmons Roberts All rights reserved
from Poetry London
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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