Where else can you go
when the sweet dream turns on you,
hair up, baring teeth, eyes dead-
cold, the low growl from frothed lips . . .
as it slowly skulks away?
Nothing can be put out of its misery,
and who are we to decide
whether an abused bitch is rabid
or crazy? All we can do is move,
turn away and hit the trail,
put our feet on the ground, walk
down through the ferns in the cool cedar
bottom, watch for stubbers, Paintbrush
and Bear Grass, listen to the trickle
of water (or its roar) over stone,
the quake of aspens fluttering in the breeze
below a talus slope of boulder scree,
maybe caress the smooth bark
of a regal Piss-Fir queen—then cuss
her firey pitch-pockets that spit,
stick to, and stain the skin.
What else can you do when
death has betrayed you again,
wrung your love like a sour rag
you hadn’t noticed was wearing thin?
If you’re lucky it’s always new
when life plays you the fool. Don’t fear.
Go threadbare. Use it up. Let it take what
it needs, everything you’ve got.
Just hold onto what remains. Take that
up high. Go outside—call it fishing.
Bathe your wounded soul in Heart Lake.
Feel the flow. Bleed and sing. Know
this medicine—the cast of your line,
the sun shining, a slight wind, snowfields
still holding in the circ—is enough
to help sadness heal broken hearts . . .
in time. Watch your fly, eye the dark
shadows below the surface . . . disturbed—
alone, above, the mallard preens, dips,
and rides the ripples, scans the sky
turning and turning overhead, then flies
on to another pond of stars.