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First stars in a milky sky, fog
sifting branches and the fox
is interloper, is fur of russet
and iron, is light-footed, is real
in my alley—no emblem trickster
or guide, vision appearing at no one’s
command, only to vanish through
some ragged hedge, flicking that full tail
the hunter calls “brush.”
Distant as dreamland
that long-gone afternoon
where I watched costumed riders
stream by, crops held firm in hand.
In lore, in legend, and in hunt practice,
initiates were marked when the quarry
was caught, their foreheads smeared
in the ceremony of blood. Stashed in a cupboard
somewhere, the china tea mug I was given,
its inked tableau of horse and hound
a hand-held pageant of staged artistry,
raw impulse brought inside.
of shrinking spaces, you come nearer,
weaving your way past digging machines
and dog parks, to extend an empire
among us, alert and unleashed,
twin kingdoms of dusk and dawn.
First appeared in NELLE.
Copyright 2021 Jane Satterfield
Jane Satterfield’s many books include Apocalypse Mix, winner of the 2016 Autumn House Poetry Prize. She teaches at University of Maryland Loyola.