Presence and Other Poems


Something about the brush pile
thirty yards ahead beside the two-
track through the aspen grove,
something too dark, too dense, as
if the glance of a witch
in wait—something out of place.

I whispered the dogs to sit and stay
and held my hand, palm
down, between them to
give my command more weight.

My first thought, always, was of bear. I’ve
followed the trail of ripped-open
sheepskins, scattered like
piles of bloody popcorn, when
the Basque herders bring
their flocks down from the
high-mountain pastures
in this late part of summer.
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