The Need for Hiding | Alison Palmer

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ALISON PALMER’s work appears in FIELD, The Los Angeles Review, River Styx and elsewhere. She is the recipient of Poet’s Billow’s Atlantis Award, and her debut collection, Aren’t We Lovely in Our Suits of Armor, was a semifinalist for the Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize. Alison was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best New Poets 2017. She received her MFA from Washington University in St. Louis where she had the pleasure of working with Carl Phillips and Mary Jo Bang. Currently, Alison lives and writes outside Washington, D.C.



The Need for Hiding

I see a fox in the woods
behind my house, while I smoke
my morning cigarette in winter’s wind.

I’m on the phone with you, and I don’t
tell you about the fox
because you don’t know I smoke.

Why else would I be on the balcony
before 9am in twenty-degree weather,
though I wonder

if I should have revealed both to you,
at the same time, saving me
some energy and guilt.

You would’ve liked to know the fox
was there; you’re a country boy
at heart, built your own barn

in your backyard and everything,
just across the river from the city
on an island no one really thinks

is an island. Today you’ll leave
work early to go play in your woods
with some other guys

who like to dig up dirt and start fires
with the wood they’ve chopped
themselves—I find this

romantic, how you preserve
your childhood ways, just
as the fox will retrace his

footprints in the snow that still stands,
has stood for months now. Let it fall
again, see where our shadows lie.