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Every Meal Tastes of Premonition
from “Dear Fox, Dear Barn”


Dearest Barn,


Every meal tastes of premonition: hens bleed silver at the slaughter; rabbits burst to powder when touched; the last geese are slicked with mercury gone cold. Soon, winter will come. My fur bled its color grey as ash. You would not recognize me. Russet leaked clean by the frost, like I’m a rag wrung dry. How strange to no longer be a mirror of your hue.


Now that my flush has left, the dead keep mistaking me for one of them. They ask me out on dates, lend me paperbacks, offer me coffee from those blue tin camping cups with the starry patina. “No thank you,” I say. “You’ve got it wrong,” I say. & they laugh in that way only the dead can laugh—like whatever I said may have been what killed them.


The last chicken I killed was plump with un-laid eggs. Still translucent, membraned, the shell unformed. When I opened them, they were yolkless– filled with snow.


The dead learned my name, somehow. Perhaps they found your letters. Perhaps they heard me barking in my sleep. Now they wont stop saying it. They jump rope to it & mutter it into pickle jars. They croon it as a lullaby to their young & greet each other with it. They all sign their own name as “Fox.”

GennaRose Nethercott

levelheaded: Every Meal Tastes of Premonition


It’s fun to try to unpack this week’s poem, but before we gnaw it to death, we hope that, like us, you’re able to find pleasure while identifying the pain in the poem’s sounds. Check out the playfulness of the long e’s offset by the hard final consonant sounds in “Russet leaked clean by the frost, like I’m a rag wrung dry.” How about the desperation of the long o’s in “When I opened them, they were yolkless—filled with snow”? We also hope that you’ll enjoy the poem’s surplus of vivid images. There are too many great ones to single any out here!


Given GennaRose Nethercott’s epistolary poem is part of a larger work titled “Dear Fox, Dear Barn” and the barn is being addressed in this particular section, we can guess that—literally and/or metaphorically—the speaker is a fox. The powerful images of small farm animals “at the slaughter” early in the poem, followed by the speaker’s assertion that “my fur bled its color grey as ash” also support this idea.


Now that we know who’s talking, let’s take a look at what our bushy tailed friend is saying. From the outset, the phrase “Every meal tastes of premonition” is unsettling. Its appearance at the start of the letter implies it’s newsworthy. The statement also tells us that, typically, the speaker’s meals are not this foreboding.


So what’s got the fox in a tizzy? Maybe being the cause of so much death is weighing on him/her. Do something enough times, and it starts to be your character. Perhaps even more interesting though is the possibility that the barn, the poem’s “you,” has something to do with the speaker’s strife.


With the line “You would not recognize me,” the fact the there is distance between the fox and the barn is highlighted. This of course is obvious (There’d be no need to send a letter if they were closer!), but the pair’s inability to connect seems significant, especially given it’s reiterated in the sentence “How strange to no longer be a mirror of your hue.”


The fox and the barn are separated, whether that be in their distance or in their differences. The speaker whose “flush has left” is not quite his or her foxy self. His or her lifelessness is further alluded to through the eggs absent of their bright yellow yolks. Rather than mirroring the red barn, the once vibrant predator is more like the ghostly suitors who have taken on his or her name.



– The Editors