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Those that Remain

WRITTEN BY CLAIRE HONG

There was a time 
when the woods were ruled by foxes 
and legends that insisted sly foxes carried sleeping children
into the slickest corners of the stretching trees that breathed down 
our twig-like necks
Yet, I've only seen these forest dwellers scuttle out the forest
to swipe a whiff of warm pies in wooden stoves 
whenever the gales whisper of ice and snow


The woods were ruled by foxes, 
but so was the quiddity of our land 
the foxes answered to shrills of the crows at dawn 
and capered to the silent beat of the river flow
They were born to dip between our iron bars
and sink their claws through the Alaskan snow
with slippery eyes and
broken canines
 
When time brought news of glory in the city 
where critters sat their days away in farms
So we (the ones in love with
money, sick of being ruled)
decided to set fire upon one leaf
watching it stretch, and release sluggish groans
Soon, it hugs all trees against its chest 
  rest of the living trapped in the belly
maybe I imagined, but the foxes slipped away 
through the shadow of leaves of trees, screaming


The woods: ruled by nobody.


I stayed awake for several nights, 
the charred remains of leaves buzz and rustle 
    pounding against each other, like the dropping of bells 


I've since counted a thousand nights, when
the soft flickers on my ceiling transform 
into accusatory eyes: the saffron gold
dawdling around in my dreams
a shuffling trail of ruffled red


From the tips of pipes and chimneys
a surly smog rules the city


I'm sure one day they'll find me
while sitting above the city, savage claws clicking
against concrete, the swishes of a fire-swept tail that caress the night
   Eyes will sweep through every dim lit alley
   through all the empty spaces between the artificial trees
  Searching. And searching. 


And stare.
 

I pray 
for there's always a chance that their yellow orbs 
are kind enough not to shine my way