They shook the green leaves down,
those men that rattled
in their sleep. Truth became
a nightmare to their fox.
He turned their horses into fish,
or was it horses strung
like fish, or fish like fish
hung naked in the wind?
Stars fell upon their catch.
A girl, not yet twenty-four
but blonde as morning birds, began
a dance that drew the men in
green around her skirts.
In dust her magic jangled memories
of dawn, till fox and grief
turned nightmare in their sleep.
And this: fish not fish but stars
that fell into their dreams.
"Magic Fox" was publishing in Riding the Earthboy 40, the only volume of poetry written by acclaimed Native American novelist James Welch. The title of the book refers to the forty acres of Montana land Welch’s father once leased from a Blackfeet family called Earthboy. This land and its surroundings shaped the writer’s worldview as a youth, its rawness resonates in the vitality of his elegant poetry, and his verse shows a great awareness of a moment in time, of a place in nature, and of the human being in context. Deeply evoking the specific Native American experience in Montana, Welch’s poems nonetheless speak profoundly to all readers. With its new introduction, this vital work that has influenced so many American writers is certain to capture a new generation of readers.