Marine helicopters on maneuver kept dipping toward swells at Black’s Beach, my board’s poise giving way to freefall of my wave tubing over me, nubs of wax under my feet as I crouched under the lip, sped across the face and kicked out— all over Southern Cal a haze settled: as if light breathed that technicolor smog at sunset over San Diego Harbor where battleships at anchor, just back from patrolling the South China Sea, were having rust scraped off and painted gray. This was my inheritance that lay stretched before me: which is when I felt the underbrush give way and the fox that thrives in my brain, not looking sly but just at home in his pelt and subtle paws, broke from cover and ran across the yard into the future to sniff my gravestone, piss, and move on. And so I was reborn into my long nose and ears, my coat’s red, white, and brown giving off my fox smell lying heavy on the winds in the years when I’d outsmart guns, poison, dogs, and wire, when the rooster and his hens clucked and ran, crazy with terror at how everything goes still in that way a fox adores, gliding through slow-motion drifts of feathers.
Originally published in House of Fact, House of Ruin (Graywolf Press, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by Thomas Sleigh. Used with the permission of the poet.