Wednesday, November 3, 2010

off to the Smokies

of bear & elk

a great imposing bear can own these woods at night,
this grand bear’s been seen, late at night,
moving in the neighborhood,
filling half a lane of the road,
a few weeks ago a great pile of its scat appeared in our yard,

I guessed chestnuts drew it here
so that it could even more bulk up for winter,
and I felt daunted by its size,

it’s early evening and I’m sipping a cup of coffee down by the creek,
the porch lights bright enough for me to see
some of the world around me,
and I do look over my shoulder in case that bear is coming,
the beech tree above me holds her leaves
which must be yellowing into gold,
though this night takes away the color,
enough of the other trees have lost their leaves
to let stars glare at me through the cold clear air,
on my drive up here the sun’s last beams
spotlit some trees to make them glow,

though most of the high country had taken off their party best
and put back on subtler hues and more basic shapes,

I hoped for elk at dusk, and I found them,
just off the road in a grassy field:
a great antlered bull asserted his pride,
he, his mates and children all together,
the young still on the milk,

and more mating still on the bull’s mind,

a younger male, with antlers more twigs than trunk, intruded,
and the two males faced-off,

pushing and testing each other, more play at dominance than challenge,
I left as the Smokies slipped more into dark than day.

by Henry Walker
October 29, ’10

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