I’m so sorry, little fox

After recent heavy rain and flooding, I took Blitz out for a walk in the yard this morning while everything was still frozen. As we crossed the bridge over our creek, I saw it.

A dead fox in our yard.

I was not prepared for that. Since we moved here, I’ve seen my share of dead things: mice and moles killed by the neighbor’s barn cat. A dead snake. Dead birds. Bones. Piles of feathers left after a hawk attack. Even dismembered rabbit parts. Last month, I had to remove a dead rabbit from our driveway. Its blood stained the gravel for days afterward.

But a fox… It shook me.

My husband dealt with it. He laid it to rest somewhere in our woods where I won’t see it on my walks back there. He told me it looks like it was shot in the stomach, and that upsets me even more. The thought that someone shot it and it suffered and died in our yard. I can’t bear it.

I’m so sorry, little fox. I’m sorry for human cruelty. I’m sorry you died in pain.

I Found a Dead Fox — Mary Oliver

I found a dead fox

beside the gravel road,

curled inside the big

iron wheel

of an old tractor

that has been standing,

for years,

in the vines at the edge

of the road.

I don’t know

what happened to it –

when it came there

or why it lay down

for good, settling

its narrow chin

on the rusted rim

of the iron wheel

to look out

over the fields,

and that way died –

but I know

this: its posture –

of looking,

to the last possible moment,

back into the world –

made me want

to sing something

joyous and tender

about foxes.

But what happened is this –

when I began,

when I crawled in

through the honeysuckle

and lay down

curling my long spine

inside that cold wheel,

and touched the dead fox,

and looked out

into the wide fields,

the fox


There was only myself

and the world,

and it was I

who was leaving.

And what could I sing


Oh, beautiful world!

I just lay there

and looked at it.

And then it grew dark.

That day was done with.

And then the stars stepped forth

and held up their appointed

fires –

those hot, hard

watchmen of the night.

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