Qawanguq with Fox

Abigail Chabitnoy

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I was walking up some stairs in a building

 

Inside parts of the building were new

but no one lived there anymore

 

I passed a lucky fox head on the stairs—

 

               But fox, where are your ears and your eyes and your tongue?

                             where is your body, your bushy tail?

 

The head slunk past without stopping

 

              If a fox crosses your path, an opportunity will be given you

 

so I followed it through the building to the roof

where the sky

                          and a woman lay dying

 

"I used to have a garden," she said

 

              If a fox stops and looks at you, your ambitions will be fulfilled

 

She took out her eyes and her tongue

and placed these in my hand

 

She took a fox tail from under her skirts

and fastened it to my spine

                                          where it had forked

                                     she joined the pieces

 

She ran her fingers over my ears

and they tickled     like fur

 

When I looked up she didn't have any ears

any eyes

              any tongue

                               any tail

 

The head sat there

vacant in my direction

 

I put the fox eyes to my eyes

and I could see across the sea

 

I put the tongue in my pocket

            and picked my way down the stairs unseen

following the smell of tide

Abigail Chabitnoy, “Family History” from How to Dress a Fish. Copyright © 2018 by Abigail Chabitnoy. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.
 
Source: How to Dress a Fish (Wesleyan University Press, 2018)