I am a blue fox on a gray farm
Condemned to slaughter by my color
behind this gnawproof wire screen,
I find no comfort in being blue.
Lord, but I want to molt! I burn
to strip myself of myself in my frenzy;
but the luxuriant, bristling blue
seeps through the skin – scintillant traitor.
How I howl – feverishly I howl
like a furry trumpet of the last judgement,
beeseeching the stars either for freedom forever,
or at least forever to be molting.
A passing visitor captured my howl
on a tape recorder. What a fool!
He didn’t howl himself, but he might
begin to, if he were caught in here!
I fall to the floor, dying.
Yet, somehow, I fail to die.
I stare in depression at my own Dachau
and I know: I’ll never escape.
Once, after dining on a rotten fish,
I saw that the door was unhooked;
toward the stary abyss of flight I leaped
with a pup’s perennial recklessness.
Lunar gems cascaded across my eyes.
The moon was a circle! I understood
that the sky is not broken into squares,
as it had been from within the cage.
Alaska’s snowdrits towered all around,
and I desperately capered, diseased,
and freedom did a Twist inside my lungs
with the stars I had swallowed.
I played pranks, I barked nonsense
at the trees. I was my own pure self.
And the iridescent snow was unafraid
that it was also very blue.
My mother and father didn’t love each other;
but they mated. How I’d like
to find a girl fox so that I could
tumble and fly with her in this sumptuous powder!
But then I’m tired. The snow is too much.
I cannot lift my sticking paws.
I have found no friend, no girl friend.
A child of captivity is too weak for freedom.
He who’s concieved in a cage will weep for a cage.
Horrified, I understood how much I love
that cage, where they hide me behind a screen,
and the fur farm, my motherland.
And so I returned, frazzled, and beaten.
No sooner did the cage clang shut,
than my sense of guilt became resentment
and love was alchemized again to hate.
In you, Alaska, I howled in lost dispair.
In prison now, I am howling in dispair.
My America, I am lost,
but who hasn’t gotten lost in you?
True, there are changes on the fur farm.
They used to suffocate us in sacks.
Now they kill us in the modern mode-
electrocution. It’s wonderfully tidy.
I contemplate my Eskimo-girl keeper.
Her hand rustles endearingly over me.
He fingers scratch the back of my neck.
But a Judas sadness floods her angel eyes.
She saves me from all diseases
and won’t let me die from hunger,
but I know when the time, set firm as iron,
arrives, she will betray me, as is her duty.
Brushing a touch of moisture from her eyes,
she will ease a wire down my throat, crooning.
BE HUMANE TO THE EMPLOYEES! ON FUR FARMS
INSTITUTE THE OFFICE OF THE ELECTROCUTIONER!
I would like to be naiive, like my father,
but I was born in captivity: I am not him.
The one who feeds me will betray me.
The one who pets me will kill me.
Translated by John Updike with Albert C. Todd