Natalie Eleanor Patterson is a half-Cuban femme lesbian poet and editor from suburban Georgia with a BA in English and Creative Writing from Salem College. She is the editor of Dream of the River (Jacar Press, 2021) and has work featured in Sinister Wisdom, Hunger Mountain, Yes Poetry, and more. She has received the 2018 and 2021 Katherine B. Rondthaler Award in Poetry from Salem College, a Best of the Net 2018-2019 nomination, and a 2020 Pushcart Prize nomination. She is the assistant editor of Jacar Press, a reader for One, and consulting editor with Sable Books. She is an MFA candidate in poetry at Oregon State University. Find her on Twitter @natalieepatt or visit her website, poetnatalie.com.
I don’t know where foxes go when they sleep,
how they make their beds, or where.
I imagine they nest with the fur and feathers of animals they’ve killed,
folding fresh over former,
like snow after sullied snow.
I don’t know where the bones go
after the fox has had its fill.
Surely they don’t know to respect the spirits of the dead,
to bury them beneath the poplars,
to hope that more will grow.
If so, then there must be an expansive burial ground
just below the soil, and every step in the forest
is an omen, a shudder in the cold bright dark.
There is no lamplight where the foxes nest,
only the sting of survival.
I wonder if they know the secrets of their foxhood
better than I understand my own existence.
Maybe the first step is to make a nest
in the deep sea of night, under the poplars,
to make a nest at whatever cost.