That night you saw the fox by the cot

See his hands—these claws learn the earth’s shape, Just as the bowstring in his mind sends him leaping Away from the jaws of dogs. Their breath bubbles In his bones now. You’re forced To watch him grow sleek and wise, reared on animal milk. That night you saw the fox by the cot, You missed the gentleness of its teeth round your baby’s neck. The long face questioned you then. You stared back, Peeling layers of fear that had mildewed deep Within the cupboards and windowpanes, Fear that had rippled the floorboards, risen the yeast, Entered the house through keyholes and curled in cups, like silver fog. You screamed. The fox’s teat slipped out of his mouth—thick as a grub, Spraying the floor white.

Maria Kardel