Mail Creek

When I am right in what I do
I sometimes see a red fox in the open space,
along the top of the ravine
where Mail Creek
works its five-hundred-year-old course
through flood-ravaged shortgrass plain.

She greets me full-faced,
neutral, brave, and unimpressed.
It doesn’t matter that I’m there.
Whatever threat I represent
she has places to go:
remembered ribbons of trail,
dry thickets on the riverbank,
subterranean passages
I will never see.
Who knows?
a pair of kits among
the fur and bones of old hunts.
She has places to go.

On a more timid day
she might recognize around
the orbits of my eyes
the look of prey:
the shallow breath,
and all my purpose hushed —
but this morning we have come out bold.
She passes on,
just another hunter in the brush.

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