Midnight, mid-May. The earth supple
with three weeks of rain, Queen Anne
lacing the clover, dandelions racing the slope
of hill behind our house. Water pooled
in every nick and hollow bared to sky,
moss slick and greening inside the curbs.
Our dog noses through yards, puddle-pawed,
until suddenly he is gone—bent to the wild will
of instinct, your gasp and halt call
a hundred feet too slow. Still I glimpse
his tempter, the redly skittish sprint of a fox
just one breath quicker. Poor creature—
chased through the city from one exile
into another, some hedge or damp shed
where he might cower, helpless to smut
the giveaway glare of his eyes. What was it
we read once?—that one great love is a thing
to be feared because it makes of all others
a kind of exile. Overhead the stars shiver
in their deep cave. To them the chase must
look like a comet, a match blown out.
No, the wind of breath as it first cups the flame.
O love me, fleet tail. Sweet air, streets
memoried with rain. No, not a match
at all: the cosmos emptied back into itself.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.