Many thanks to Kirsten for teaching me how to pronounce the French bit in this sharp-toothed beauty. Sauve qui peut means "save which can" or "save who can."
The red fox crosses the ice
intent on none of my business.
It's winter and slim pickings.
I stand in the bushy cemetery,
pretending to watch birds,
but really watching the fox
who could care less.
She pauses on the sheer glare
of the pond. She knows I'm there,
sniffs me in the wind at her shoulder.
If I had a gun or a dog
or a raw heart, she'd smell it.
She didn't get this smart for nothing.
She's a lean vixen: I can see
the ribs, the sly
trickster's eyes, filled with longing
and desperation, the skinny
feet, adept at lies.
Why encourage the notion
of virtuous poverty?
It's only an excuse
for zero charity.
Hunger corrupts, and absolute hunger
or almost. Of course there are mothers,
squeezing their breasts
dry, pawning their bodies,
shedding teeth for their children,
or that's our fond belief.
But remember - Hansel
and Gretel were dumped in the forest
because their parents were starving,
Sauve qui peut. To survive
we'd all turn thief
and rascal, or so says the fox,
with her coat of an elegant scoundrel,
her white knife of a smile,
who knows just where she's going:
to steal something
that doesn't belong to her -
some chicken, or one more chance,
or other life.
by Margaret Atwood from Morning in the Burned House