Fire Screen


Frost on the ground,
black earth touched with silent gold;
cold beaten brass stare of the two foxes
in the screen shielding the fireplace.

The small one snatches a scent,
back bent in a much bolder
quivering stance than the other
who muzzle-up, caught out, guilty-glanced,
holds the moon on his shoulder.

Colder and colder, caught forever
as if in the glare of the gunman’s lamp;
I wish they’d been shot, those foxes,
that scared me as a child;

such wild fear that they’d catch
the naked wooden statue of the kneeling girl
to leave startled splinters on the mantel.

I’m older now, my fear’s locked away
in one of those secret boxes;
often don’t have to check the kneeling girl stays whole —
though you can’t be sure with foxes
for sometimes when the door blocks the light
I hear their necks crack as they turn and watch.

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