I’m in a strange country, less
than half a mile from home.
I never saw this fence, these trees,
a big-footed horse that wanders where
crops untended tumble down in rain.
A sign says, SLOW BLIND CURVE.
Who travels the approaching lane?
What hidden animal is there?
Contours that could be home
are curtained behind me in smoke.
This is not the old grange road
angling off to north and east.
The wrong sky—low, weighted, bleak—
descending like a night of stone.
Someone sits beside me in silence.
What language do we speak?
The gray fox plunged from the forest
onto our suburban lawn, running with her mate.
They undulated like streaming silver water,
his nose to her long lush tail.
Her tongue was a crimson ribbon threaded
through her smiling mouth.
She coursed from the forest never slowing,
past the cold dormant rose, the planted linden tree,
the native kinnikinnick,
to lower herself at the edge of our back deck.
An incidental bow, and under,
where she disappeared from my glassed-in view
as I looked out from the window, the fog at dawn.
I was roused to joy, or to envy:
Oh, her wild composure
in that liquid focused movement.
My breath stopped—
until she emerged still leading at a run
from the far end of the structure.
And something small dangled
from her perfect teeth.
Jerri Elliott Otto is a writer, editor, and amateur videographer living on a quiet acre near the McDonald-Dunn Forest in Western Oregon. She has been a presenter and guest teacher for classes and writing workshops, including for the Northwest Poets Concord and the Oregon Poetry Association. She is an award-winning poet and enjoys producing experimental video poetry. Currently she is finishing a narrative biography of her sister, the spiritual teacher, Jacqueline Metheany.