Every time it rains, the foxes pull apart
with their claws a rainbow and commence
a procession through it, walking on
all fours to the town square for a wedding.
After the weddings, all of the human denizens
of our town acquire closets full of fox fur.
At least this is what the folklore teaches
us: that what ought to be ours can be
and already is, in a way, as my friend Arthur attests
when he approaches and reveals
a tattoo of a seashell and lets me in
on a little secret. Seashell is the Mayan
symbol for zero, he imparts, because
against my will, I am in on the symbols
he steals for himself. The white
of the seashell falters against the whiteness
of his skin. Against my will, I carry the foxes
to the pyre because every wedding ends
in a massacre, according to the folklore.
According to the folklore, the heat of the breath
changes whether the mouth is open wide
or pursed into an oval. One breath is hot
and the other cold, says my mother,
who can’t find her words anymore.
And it’s raining, so I let her in on the story
of the foxes. She can’t find the word for
decision—not decision, but a word like
decision—maybe it’s dilemma, but the moment
is gone and the word with it. The grunt she
lets out is the slight hum Glenn Gould describes
alongside the piano upon which he inscribes,
with his fingers, the Goldberg Variations.
The music sitting just beside the music.
According to the folklore, losing one’s words
is a normal sign of aging, while according
to the other folklore, it is an augury of what’s to come
like a pattern divulged by a pile of scat. Fox scat,
if we want to be frank, which we burn
with the rest of the animals, saving the fur.
Because the fur makes us beautiful, sailing
upon the ocean the ownership
presses its full weight against.
So I let my mother slowly forget her
words because it is time to return them.
They were a story told to her, but she forgets
the ending. Zero at the beginning and
zero at the end. Somewhere in the middle,
value. So I hum the music as if it were my own.
Several acorns divebomb the gravel.
Something is moving, with its fingers, the trees,
as I stroll down the street trilling some of the words
I’ve stolen: fox paw, fox news, fox den,
fox skulk, foxglove.