Salmon River State Forest, CT
All afternoon I have followed the foxes,
tracked their pianissimo steps notching the snowy trail
across profound spreads to where they became lost,
backtracked and attempted another path
from the split, and then to the left
where they tested an icy log across a creek.
I negotiate it crawling, bent knees squeezing
the half-thawed bark until I reach the end
and can again trace their prints.
One has broken through the glass ice
hugging the berm, and gashed a paw
or leg and left a dotted trail for me to follow,
rounding the corner up the hill.
Night is forming above where the last
visible print coaxes me,
hours from my farmhouse,
still the way back to trek.
How far until its injury huddles the fox
in a hollow, alone with the night wind,
or the emptied blood attracts
a starved predator that sets ambush
in a snowdrift? What can I do
among pale birch and green pine
dusted with fallen flurry,
the tracks already blending,
to stop this, winter, dark, me,
unsuited and night-blind,
hardly animal anymore?