Summary: The narrator, in order to hide from the Man From The Smokestack and the rest of the town, retreats back to the form of a small red fox, and while planning their journey out of town tries to figure out how, in their voiceless state, they could leave a message for North in case they ever return.
They, the town that is,
Waited all strewn about your roommate's front porch
Crucifixion on their teeth,
Bellies all rainbarrows of wanting
To know how to sacrifice something worth losing.
Everybody all picking pennies from their shoulderblades
And kissing the serrated edges of stray cat's backbones
Nobody telling each other what they gave to the river that one Sunday
After the bars closed down and the old railroad ghosts went swimmin in their church shoes.
It wasn't my territory anymore
I had a den here when I was nothing but the size of an acorn but
This place doesn't look like it did then
Sometimes I find a damp porch to drag some leaves under and pretend but
Everybody's always stomping here
Always lighting each other on fire
Like it's some kind of carnival game
And if they pull a thing like me shivering from the ashes
All copperwire glowing frayed sizzled up fur
That's just another prize to seal into a song or something
I tried to leave a good letter for you
Something gentle and kind to say
When you come back with all the scars
And raise your arms up trying to teach them
How to get out of a building when the smoke rises
But you don't seem much at all the type for getting out of buildings when there's smoke rising.
I've been layin damp leaves over the cinders
But when that smoldering coalmine decides to light up it's veins here
The river's gonna ask you a broken levee of a question
And you gotta know that you'll have to hold your tongue a pretty long extra mile to answer it
I wanted to leave you with something gentle
But all I saw was what my eyes gave me and what they burned into my feet in their sleep
I used to be a champion and I used to be a tree I was a loving embrace on a porch swing
And I only knew about playing chess for folks souls from the movies.
I gave him something when you weren't looking
Slipped a secret into his wallet to make a bargain in the shadow of a fallen king.
So now I'm all four paws and skittish and the knowledge of giving up and running
Going down south to build a new life outta something simpler than tumbling bricks and shopping carts
You found something in your pocket
And you stand here breathing
Taller than you used to be
Stepping gentle up onto those porch steps
Maybe you're gonna see something I didn't see
Maybe when the river asks that question
You're gonna know something
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