To the Foxes

"I just came to warn you,"
the neighbor said, "foxes have moved in
since your father’s been gone. We've seen

two prancing down the street. Kittens
and small dogs have disappeared. At night
they return to your father’s backyard. Look,

look, there in that hole." She spins
me around, points to the bushes. "I'm afraid,"
she says, her voice low. "My poodle

is afraid. He doesn’t want to go outside.
Make sure you leave no windows open. Foxes
will invade your home." I check

the cedar hedge, search the vinca, part
the tangled Virginia creeper curtain. Nothing
moves. No glittering eyes, no sharp teeth.

Fifty years ago the prairie was my backyard.
Lured by the meadow lark and the wild blue sky,
I played pioneer, safe in the smell of sage.

Cottonwoods long gone, strip
malls and suburbia silenced
the prairie. I too am afraid.

To the foxes, I say, "Go ahead,
eat a few poodles. That's the
least we can offer you."

Erika D. Walker’s writing has been published in Literary Mama, Pulse: Voices from the Heart of Medicine, and American Baby Magazine. She co-authored Denver Mountain Parks: 100 Years of the Magnificent Dream which won a 2014 Colorado Book Award. She lives in Denver, Colorado.