Across the way
In a field by the road
Sits redfox looking for a forest.
Any woods will do.
His home was just clear-cut
So he sits in a low spot at the bend
With nowhere to go.
Looking rather lost as one evicted
But across the way
Do I? Do you?
For 45 seconds I honestly care
Just like I care about a lot of things
In a tiny corner reserved for caring
In my brain.
My heart cares for a little longer
And will periodically throughout the day.
So I watch him
Until my watching makes him nervous
And he bounds back into the ruined forest
Where the midday sun illuminates
The toppled pillars of a world that worked.
This is the second in a set of poems titled “Across the way”. Both were written in VA where we are visiting family. There is a clear cut underway across the road. “Across the way 1” more graphically depicts the cutting down of the trees, whereas the above poem focuses on a young fox who is pausing in an open field near the road below the decimated forest, obviously disoriented, getting his bearings. I was only moderately pleased with how this poem was going until the last three lines which felt like an ah-ha moment. The “toppled pillars” are, of course, the great trunks of the delimbed trees that resemble the bleached pillars that used to hold up the ostentatious edifices of ancient Rome. The similarity breaks down quickly. Rome was a tragically flawed, violent civilization that lasted way too long for its own good, whereas the pillars of the felled trees across the way are the ruins of a world that “worked”. I’m writing this poem because I am upset and sad, but the poem acknowledges that I will not stay focused on the fox’s woes for long. Such assaults on nature are a common occurrence in our world which, in many ways, resembles the Rome of Nero.