‘Vixen’ by Patrick Deeley, winner of the Inaugural Dermot Healy International Poetry Competition

patrick deeley


She is the one washed across the River Dodder,

fur plastered to her skin and on her face

a rictus grin, the one yet making her rounds

unfazed by thump or roar of motorcycle

or by ambulance’s blue flickering hullaballo, its

red tinging, and she perpetuates the one

bursting through a net-wire henhouse window

fifty years ago, the cub my neighbour fed

from a trough after he had killed her mother,

the cuddlesome one soon to tune in

to her own feral nature; she absconds, vagabond

at home among the urban – the long

rout of foxes gone before seems to become her,

those dug out, those poisoned or shot

or mangled by hounds, those broken

under the wheels of cars; survivor, the glisten

of health attends her, the youthful lustre 

she won’t outwear, being too wild, too crossed

with the cricks and crimps of her kin;

she’s a fire, an aura, a lollop along the back lane

from dustbin to doorstep, a den dweller,

my first Galway Blazer, my townland namer,

and it’s as if the stars have fashioned

a pelt for her, the frosts a carry, the hills a cover;

as darkness deepens she comes brushed

with heather smell, harebell, stone-quarry dust,

comes maybe to shake loose her shriek

mating ochoons or the chalk of cemetery bones –

this numinous one representing all, this

watcher whom I suddenly want to get next to

as though she were the burning down of my years

so lightly here and gone as I take the air

in midsummer, in a midnight suburb of Dublin.

‘Though there have been many planxties made for the urban fox, this is an outstanding hymn to that beautiful creature. In one long, sinuous sentence, full of incident and the heft of the world, the poem enacts what it promises, brings us right up close to a vixen. It is ‘as if the stars have fashioned/ a pelt for her, the frosts a carry, the hills a cover’. By the poem’s closing it has become a meditation on the passing of the poet’s life — ‘the burning down of my years’  — where poet and vixen deftly mirror each other’s mortality.’ –  Paula Meehan. (Judge of the final short listed 10 poems)




One thought on “‘Vixen’ by Patrick Deeley, winner of the Inaugural Dermot Healy International Poetry Competition

  1. Pingback: Uimhir a Cúig |A Callows Childhood: Memoir — Patrick Deeley » Numéro Cinq

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