|FOXLINE, Chris Mansell (Flying Islands Press, 2020)|
The new book of poems out from Flying Islands!
There are two characters in this collection: the fox, and the farmer. They are opposed but share an existential problem. The more charismatic figure is the fox (female, only once owning 'vixen') who is trying to understand her environment, the role of the farmer, the singing fences, the farmer. The farmer is a solitary figure walking with a gun, trying to get things right. Each have their own good intentions; neither of them entirely comfortable where they are.
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What came before
Somewhere between Daylesford and Castlemaine in Victoria, Australia, they have a fox problem. Australia in general has a 'fox problem'. Foxes are not indigenous to the continent, and they are predators of the kind that small marsupials were unaccustomed to resisting. Foxes, along with feral cats, and various other creatures which took up ecological niches, took a great toll on the wildlife.
It is also thought, believed strongly, that foxes attack livestock, often taking only the most delectable parts of an animal. They are not beloved by farmers. There are three ways of expressing their relationship to foxes: traps, guns, poison (1080). Savage traps are not legal, cage traps are ok - except now you have a fox in a trap; 1080 is often used but seen as unnecessarily cruel by some; sand then there is the direct honesty of a gun, though less efficient.
Nevertheless, they are beautiful, alien animals; independent, foxy. In the wild they live for about three years (in captivity, much more), and their social structure depends on the conditions encountered. In some conditions there is only one breeding pair, in others all the females breed.
They are invaders, but have made the country their own. They know nothing else. The farmer of foreign heritage and the fox are not different in that respect.
Somewhere between Daylesford and Castlemaine there is the foxline: about 200 dead and scalped foxes hung from their heels on a fence by the roadway. So beautiful in the sun.
|Part of the foxline. All but one still had their tails.|