(return home)

This is based on an old song from Cornwall that my Jewish mother used to sing to me in New York.

"The Fox"

The fox went out on a chilly night with none but the moon as companion and no fellowship but the moonlight. He ran over the rolling fields through the tall grasses protecting him from sight but that slightly rustled as they bent, slightly reluctant, before his nose. He sailed over the steady waves of the earth till he came to the farm where he trembling paused outside the cleared and manbent land to smell the air. Awake! he cried, oh my chickens, oh my ducks, awake to make your peace, for chicken and duck shall grease my chin before I cleave the field again. My humble murder crept low over the farmland, he came to the glowing coop. And my toothed fox pressed the door in a caress, meditating balanced between tenderness and rape, and the door, like a lover, stroked his shoulder as he entered in. She laid her charms all out before him, then, that sluttish coop, fat ducks and white chickens, everywhere shining feathers and feeded flesh. Hot spit snapped in the points of his teeth and at the crack of the snap he threw himself up into the shining soft bodies, into the tender embrace of weak and ready blood. Rejoice! he cried, oh my chickens, oh my ducks, for the scuppered duck across my back and the rich gray goose's broken neck, they died that you and I might live. Rejoice! he cried, in the hot stink of fallen blood. But the teeth of a fox force some sense even in the goose, and the gray goose died with hideous alarm. This goose's cry, this moment's sense in a goosey life, it pierced through the window and through old mother's sleep. Awake! she cried, oh my man, oh my John; the fox has come and the goose is gone. Awake, she cried in a voice so shrill that John ran away to the top of the hill. In his black heavy boots did he mount the hill, slipping on wet rebel grass, dreamily clutching his short brass horn, who cared little for sleeping but less for his goose, but less for his wife than all that. But the hilltop made the petty farmer proud; but the hilltop made the sleepy farmer bright; he shrieked to the dawn in his short brass horn and scowled in the face of the fluttering night. Awake! he cried, oh my slinking fox, that would save your spoils and the teeth that took them. Awake! he cried, back to your hole. So John he went to the top of the hill and he blew his horn both loud and shrill, and the fox he said I'd better flee with my kill, for they'll soon be on my trail-o. And now the arrogant fox trampled the grasses a homecoming hero, skating on the moonlight, the duck crying out with his last breath "repent, repent," o, and the gooseneck "memento mori," with his own white feet in the yellow moonlight whispering "Homeward, homeward, to feast, to love, to sleep heavy sleep." And he came down into his cozy den and laid the dead before his wife, where they joyous raised the dead to life, to stretch the muscles and slicken the fur of young foxlings to murder their children. And awake! he cried, oh my darlings, oh my eight, nine, ten; for daddy has gone and returned again. Then teeth touched teeth in a secret kiss, and those that have lived can witness this, that soon they slept on their branches and stones while the little ones chewed on the marrow bones.