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When it is time, I hope by Jane Burns

I saw the tawny, hunt of a lithe and hungry fox saw it bolt
from my involuntary oh! and leave behind its crying kill

I touched the rabbit’s mite of ruined fur touched the rosy curdle
of blood like a carcanet around her bit of neck I thought about

this sheer blade of suffering and love about the breaking up
of truth and hope and flesh I felt as if no matter where I am, I must

always be near to some kind of death felt as if my arm, around
her tiny body made the shape of a scythe When it is time, I hope

I will fall from a cold morning, like early rain When it is time, I hope
I shall be claimed as gently as night completes the dusk

Stars clung to her prayer-bead eyes While I held her, I pressed
my heart’s pulse against her leaf of skin Perhaps I should have left her,

mauled upon the path Perhaps I warped some small part
of nature’s unfathomable plan The fox was not cruel The fox

was all its quintessence had told it to be And there will be angels
My pity has me speak in shapes of feather My breath ripples

through her pelt The fox might return to her bones I cannot take
what was never meant to be mine I give her back to the grass