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Fox in a Man Suit

Michael Symmons Roberts

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)

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