The Thought Fox, Ted Hughes



I imagine this midnight moment’s forest:
Something else is alive
Beside the clock’s loneliness
And this blank page where my fingers move.

Through the window I see no star:
Something more near
Though deeper within darkness
Is entering the loneliness:

Cold, delicately as the dark snow,
A fox’s nose touches twig, leaf;
Two eyes serve a movement, that now
And again now, and now, and now

Sets neat prints into the snow
Between trees, and warily a lame
Shadow lags by stump and in hollow
Of a body that is bold to come

Across clearings, an eye,
A widening deepening greenness,
Brilliantly, concentratedly,
Coming about its own business

Till, with a sudden sharp hot stink of fox
It enters the dark hole of the head.
The window is starless still; the clock ticks,
The page is printed.

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I was Passionate… Lai Ded

I was passionate,

filled with longing,

I searched

far and wide.

But the day

that the Truthful One

found me,

I was at home.

~Lai Ded, translated by Jane Hirschfield

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How I go into the Woods, Mary Oliver


Ordinarily I go to the woods alone,
with not a single friend,
for they are all smilers and talkers
and therefore unsuitable.
I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds
or hugging the old black oak tree.
I have my ways of praying,
as you no doubt have yours.
Besides, when I am alone
I can become invisible.
I can sit on the top of a dune
as motionless as an uprise of weeds,
until the foxes run by unconcerned.
I can hear the almost unhearable sound of the roses singing.
If you have ever gone to the woods with me,
I must love you very much.

~Mary Oliver, How I Go Into the Woods

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Detail of the Woods, Richard Siken


I looked at all the trees and didn’t know what to do.

A box made out of leaves.
What else was in the woods? A heart, closing. Nevertheless.

Everyone needs a place. It shouldn’t be inside of someone else.
I kept my mind on the moon. Cold moon, long nights moon.

From the landscape: a sense of scale.
From the dead: a sense of scale.

I turned my back on the story. A sense of superiority.
Everything casts a shadow.

Your body told me in a dream it’s never been afraid of anything.


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The Night House, Billy Collins


Every day the body works in the fields of the world
mending a stone wall
or swinging a sickle through the tall grass –
the grass of civics, the grass of money –
and every night the body curls around itself
and listens for the soft bells of sleep.

But the heart is restless and rises
from the body in the middle of the night,
and leaves the trapezoidal bedroom
with its thick, pictureless walls
to sit by herself at the kitchen table
and heat some milk in a pan.

And the mind gets up too, puts on a robe
and goes downstairs, lights a cigarette,
and opens a book on engineering.
Even the conscience awakens
and roams from room to room in the dark,
darting away from every mirror like a strange fish.

And the soul is up on the roof
in her nightdress, straddling the ridge,
singing a song about the wildness of the sea
until the first rip of pink appears in the sky.
Then, they all will return to the sleeping body
the way a flock of birds settles back into a tree,

resuming their daily colloquy,
talking to each other or themselves
even through the heat of the long afternoons.
Which is why the body — that house of voices –
sometimes puts down its metal tongs, its needle, or its pen
to stare into the distance,

to listen to all its names being called
before bending again to its labor.

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Bashō After Cinderella, Deborah Kolodji

Cinderella Tile Panel, Edward Burne-Jones at William Morris Tile



a glass slipper
in the middle of the road
spring rain


thistles in bloom
village gossip
after the ball


pumpkin vine
a mouse remembers
how to neigh


fairy dust snow
perfectly-sized boots
for her bare feet

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Relational Epistemology, Heather Phillipson

Cherry Genoa cake

‘It’s whatever you want it to be,’ said my father
after he bisected My Little Pony and used her in a sculpture.
At bedtime he read me Kafka’s short fiction.

‘All men are not idiots,’ my mother advised,
‘but beware of Structuralists;
life will never be a matter of signifiers and signs.’

She gave up her copy of Some Day My Prince Won’t Come
with a dedication: ‘Darling, Don’t be limited
by propositional modes of representation! xx’

Preparation of Rich Cherry Genoa was methodological.
My father paraphrased Merleau-Ponty: ‘the toucher touching touched.’
His hands around the mixing bowl, she sifted sugar.

It helped them contextualise the relationship between Self
and Other. Phenomenology at the dinner table was not unusual.
My brother queried so-called ‘pepper’, so-called ‘ketchup’,

ingested as if objective fact. The colour ‘red’ is not universal.
Mainly, my sister slept at any hour.
‘See!’ said my mother,

‘The claim that all experience might be mediated by language
is one all women know to be preposterous.
And besides, Wittgenstein is dead.’

Over dessert, however, she absolved him
on account of her cake and his raisins. ‘It’s like Ludwig said,
raisins may be the best part of a cake

but a bag of raisins is not better than a cake.
My cake isn’t, as it were, thinned-out raisins,
as you will know from experience.’

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