In the bright greyness

of before-dawn

my speeding eye

is caught by a flashing of movement

through the long grass of the fallow paddock

here I’ve often watched

and pitied

the single sheep in his lonely flockless life

slow the car

the sheep is lying under the tree

watching too


right in the centre

a fox

a fox dancing

he glows

he is young slim alive


I stop the car

the fox is dancing through the paddock

one step two step three step

change legs

one step two step three step

tiny tiny feet

as light as a butterfly

his ears are pricked


above his delicate foxy face

his tail

what do you call it?

his brush


a brush is a dead trophy on a car aerial

his tail

is defying gravity

floating along straight back

as if on water

I sit in my car

on the way to my mundane job

and know and feel this for a magic moment

this wonderful creature of fantasy

is not the feral pest of the biology books

nor the gingery shadow

which slips under the headlights at night

nor is he the same as the skulker

who took my hens

one by one

six in six nights

scorning my protective efforts

leaving their severed heads behind for me to mourn

no this fox is lightness and brightness

wildness and so alive

as I watch he slips through the fence

out of sight

heading for home in the hills

I drive in the other direction

smiling feeling good

feeling privileged

Ah young one I think

be careful

you are not wily yet

but my thoughts are of

guns traps poison

as I speed along in my lethal weapon

and when I drive again to work

along the same stretch of road

in the grey brightness of near-dawn

the small ginger carcase

at the roadside

is as saddening and personal

as a death in the family

and I am crushed

by the guilt of my species.

I wrote this poem when I was still Kristina Fry.  That was a long time ago!  It was published in an anthology created from the entries to the Newcastle Poetry Prize in 1995.

Dorothy Hewett, a writer I admire and a judge of the competition, said, “What I look for in a poem is risk taking, a sense of the fabulous,and a sophisticated technique.  All the best poems in this collection share these qualities.”

I hope mine was one of them!