This poem may not be finished—I have spent the evening taking it apart and putting it back together, and still have some tinkering to do around the edges. But what fun to have a new poem to share for Brigid! And to be writing poetry again. The stress of the past few years must be easing up. May it be so.
My mistake was thinking
I had been down this slope
before. A night spent traversing
the ridge, looking for tracks as phantom
traces of moonlight and tree shadow guided
me first to one route then another, a faint
smoothness to the land here, hints of
familiar curves waiting there,
around the bend. But
no sure match, memory
promising what the moment
did not contain. Backtracking,
confidence giving way to doubt,
the lift and heave through hip-deep
powder, a strained ascent for another run.
Then, dawning wonder: I had not been here
before. Never these woven flanks of land, never
this finely-tuned air warming to dampness in
my nostrils. I pause to listen, fingers
flexed like dowsing rods sweeping
across the mountain. Minutes
pass, possibly days.
From behind me an owl flies
low, disappearing into the shadows ahead
and my feet follow, maneuvering rise and swale
with harnessed speed. The boughs overhead give out a soft
cry, and a rustle of downy feathers, sinew and silk. Such unearthly
beauty this night, the heavens keeping watch, and so many miles before we both can sleep.
Feb 1, 2010