background image
undersides of two big limbs
the tree had sent out, level
and winding, over the creek.
The limbs remained motionless.
He listened to a trickle
of water dripping over
a rock ledge, somewhere below.
He heard a dry, light rustling
far up past the bend upstream.
For all its slightness, the sound
came to him clearly, the air
having been still for so long.
He looked upstream and waited.
What appeared around the bend
was a gray fox. It was tired,
and came on, down the center
of the streambed, at a slow
steady trot with its head low,
its tail level with its back.
It held its eyes straight ahead
as it drew near where he sat.
They were eyes dulled by fatigue.
Mud had soaked its legs, belly,
and fl anks, and matted the long,
fi ne fur of the underside
of its plume. The fox went by
sparing itself the eff ort
of a glance aside at him,