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.
Poetry London No 60 (Summer 2008)