An older man watches a familiar fox
appear again in April
to eat ground squirrels,
its tail fuller than last year’s,
fur strong with winter

He’s waited for it since December,
only to spot its tracks in the snow

Now here stands the fox
staring down at him from a hill
with the eyes of a wise uncle
he must have known as a boy

It lifts its ears unflinchingly
to listen to him blather

He tells it how he’s lived his life
all wrong, can’t go back
to set things right,
how he wakes to a face
he no longer wants to see,
chances gone,
not enough days left
to dream something grand

He tells the fox how
he disappointed his children,
how he didn’t know
what to do or say
what he did know,
how he found excuses
to cover his fears

He tells the fox
he wanted a different voice,
unimpeachable words his children
would want to recall

He shouts after its tail as it leaps
over the remaining snow
at the crest of the meadow

“Hey you! Yes, you!
Wait up! Listen!
Once, I too was cunning
and my teeth were sharp!”