Dinner done, dishes draining, the fire a red glow in its dark box, I step outside beyond the porch light, the grass stiff with frost in the home paddock, the night sky shelved but for the bright paw and nose of the Dog Star chasing a hare in the scudding dark, the almost forgotten name of a flagship tossing into view in a time before typhoid, cholera and sweetened damper, the gorge rising in the dip where shots rang out last night, our feral neighbour licensed to kill anything that moves, floodlit and whooping just beyond our fence line, which a deer can clear in a moment if only she knew she’d be safe here, but what’s a fence in a forest of stars? The cold eats fingertips and ankles. If I had flares, I would light them. Makes no sense how we got here. Makes perfect sense: a fox, right in front of me. Three red paws on the ground, one white lifted in mid-step, a thousand tiny hairs aspark in the moonlight. Breath a small vapour, electric. Eyes like river stones, that old language of fire held high in the brush-stroked tail pulsing between us, two feet of charged ground sunk without sound in a heartbeat, the mist made mystic at knee-height. Foxstruck. Standing alone in a paddock pouring electricity under a night sky blinking cold atoms without answer, blood quickening the slow burn of fox tricky as history, the fire before and after.