A temptation, to just start pulling wrapping
paper, snuggy, Batman t-shirt, already broken
doll off the heap of who-knows-what.
The living room was a mess. Search the house,
maybe put a quick end to this midnight mission—
assuming the little girl hidden in her own home?
No, it was winter, chilly night. Our assignment
was acres of woods for our dogs to search.
Remember that other callout—
crawling through manzanita in a freezing rain,
looking for a Christmas-tree cutter who, it turned
out, had caught a ride to town.
At last, the deputy called us back. Search over.
No debriefing. We never learned what
happened to that little girl.
A man with hunting rifles walks into the wood
whose trees are nets of twigs and fingers catching birds.
Soon, dark may quiet them from singing, as it should.
The hunter soon is lost in dark for all his words,
his rifles—and how many does a hunter need?
The birds in arias of singing against dark,
with wings that batter, as if frantic to be freed
for dawn; as if forgetful of night’s treasure: arc
of sun into forgetful sleep. But what’s become
of hunter with his rifles wandering the wood?
He must be following a voice—that ceaseless thrum
that is the forest of man’s searching, lost for good.
The hours of a night are countless. Birds are still.
The hunter crouches with his rifles, come what will.
STILL MEADOW, BIG HILL
She was born out of soil like a brown filly,
not knowing right from left except as sun
moved across fields and hills beyond.
She could never be lost, but always searching
for those who needed pointing in the right
direction, sky overhead, good clean dirt
in boot-tread. She could read the woods like
an outstretched hand but not a logical
sentence on the page. Building fire-line
She knew how the woods go to smoke, ash.
Poor-born to a family rich in soil—
pastureland, fresh air, room for horses
and deer to roam. The bank account was slim
but they got along.
Then the cattle were gone but they
kept the horses who gave him purchase
and voice to volunteer. He taught kids to ride;
took to the trails, searching when somebody
None of it paid. He did seasonal
work—a forest rich in trees, fresh air, room
for wild creatures to roam. No job benefits
and the pay was slim but he got along.
When snow sagged
the barn, he couldn’t afford to fix it. When he
felt something growing cell to cell, rippling
outward—gathering purchase—he waited
for Medicare to kick in, till the thing
had gone too wild to fix. Chances were
slim and the end of a trail is for gettin’ along.
on the forested hill
there’s a cold path leading nowhere
scatter of cardboard, tarp
and blanket. It’s where someone slept
town evicts its
Homeless, then where do they
go, I wonder. My old dog sniffs
coupons and move
on to checkout. What is
our participation in all
of unease in
leaves fallen on pavement.
Thanksgiving occupies the town.
Outlet I’ve seen
a man and woman walking cold
THE ANNALS OF PINE
Atop a tall pine, in sagacious gray robes
the bird presides, ringing out his name
to all the surrounding peaks:
Clark’s Nutcracker, he announces
as he extricates nut after nut from a pine
cone. How else might they be freed
to sprout, to ensure the species survives?
Besides, he might be hungry.
Thus continues a script of ages,
letter by letter on the fragile paper
of generations. Far below, a deer mouse
searches for fallen nuts, to stuff her cheeks,
writing her own history in the annals of pine.
—Medusa, with thanks to Taylor Graham for today’s fine photos and poetry about some of her many searches for the lost.
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