Down to the Bones

At dusk one chilly night
several car lengths
ahead of my truck,
I saw a red motorcycle.
Parallel to that red motorcycle,
another streak of red
raced alongside,
shining like liquid iron.

The two immobile yellow bars
of the median strip warned:
“Do not cross here now.”
The two immobile yellow bars
of the median strip warned him:
“Do not cross now.”

The oncoming traffic of Route 66
charged like painted war horses,
barreled along like freight trains.

With a lull in traffic,
the red blur, rivaling
a motorcycle’s speed,
stepped out of line to cross
the yellow stripes.

I saw him now
for what he was:
a fox in flame
orange coat
looking wise,
looking cunning,
and in his jaws, a prize.
For in his jaws he held
a plump prairie dog
by the neck.
And when he shook it,
the little dangly legs of his prey
kicked against his fiery mane.

My truck pulled into the gas station
as the fox darted with his kill
across the highway,
the sidewalk, the parking lot,
and bolted down a side trail,
towards his den,
& his wife & his little ones,
8, 9, 10.

Pumping gas,
I heard a train blow its horn,
both loud and shrill,
and hammer down the rails.
I saw prairie dog sentries
keeping watch o’er their tracks.
Blurry gray faces peered over steering wheels
and drove past the gaudy neon of Route 66.
But somewhere, safe in their den,
the little ones feasted on the bones-o.

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