Tuesday, 3 April 2012
Some words to a city fox
You, out there under the Leylandii tree. The one that has grown out of all the proportion of my thin strip of London back garden. You sleep, rolled up with your pointy nose tucked under your tail. You look so comfortable on that bed of dry soft needles as you sleep there with abandon. A dash of reddish brown in the blessed green mess out there. I look at you from the bathroom window and maybe you can feel my stare. I've been standing here for a while, watching your sleep under the tree. So you wake up. You lift your head slowly and blink and you look straight at me. You knew that I was up here at my bathroom window. We stare at each other for a long time. I open the window, I need to remove the glass barrier and look at you. Now I am getting late for work. But I need to look at you and for whatever reason you seem ok to look at me. After what seems like a long time of time suspended, you sort of sigh and lie your head back down. I know how those needles feel. I stand on them often with bare feet. I don't know why you seemed to want to look at me. Whether you were interested, or annoyed at my intrusion from behind the walls of my flat. Maybe you really don't care. I can't get myself away from the window. I need to look at you resting under that tree. You look well fed, probably on chicken wings and kebabs. Showing no concern whatsoever about a human so close. You see, you are very different from the foxes of my childhood. They were shy, mysterious creatures. I admired and feared them in equal measure, with a kind of pleasurable fear. They stayed in the forest mostly, they did not like being near humans. And it was drummed into me that if I ever saw a fox anywhere near me, a fox that was not bothered by me being there, then I had to move away fast, because rabies was the only reason a fox would behave that way. So I have an instinctual reflex in my bones when I see you close. The other night when I walked home from Walthamstow tube station, I came upon you, or maybe one of your relatives, standing by the gate in my neighbour's front garden. My heart missed a beat, you startled me so. That instinctual reflex. But it's not rabies that brings you so close to me in this urban sprawl. We've all just been thrown together here - you, and I and the out of proportion Leylandii tree. Misfits, doing the best we can in an alien world. You eat fried chicken wings, and I fold my wings under appropriate clothing. I don't know so much about what the Leylandii tree does, though I'd like to find out. Anyway, we get on here somehow. We are streetwise and sly. We have found a way. But you know, today I just had to stay here and be late for work and look at you, because my heart went out when I saw you sleeping under that tree. I've seen you there before. You keep coming back. Do you remember the trees in the forest? Does your body remember the soft needles on fiery fur? You were born here, amongst the concrete and the fast food shops. But when I see you sleeping there, I think that maybe you do know about the forest, somewhere in your being. I think you might know. And I'm really grateful that you're here. I don't mind you startling me in a doorway at night. And if you dig up my lambs lettuce again, we'll have to work out some kind of arrangement. They call you a pest, but I would very much like for you to stick around. Bring the family. These streets don't belong to me alone, nor these patches of ancient memory. I don't care if it's irrational. This is an invitation from one displaced being to another. We're here now.