|Apr/May 2013 Poetry Special Feature|
Artwork by Clinton McKay
January's a cold gray vault of leafless oaks.
If I told you
my dog dashed through winter-dead weeds
so she sent pearly-everlasting bursting into star-
spray, frozen fireworks,
you'd say it was new-year hype,
CGI special effects.
But this is how it was.
We walked up the forest road,
my dog leading the way where someone
passed yesterday, last year. Seeps had gathered
in his footprints, frozen overnight,
braceletted with crystal-
ice at the edges. On a skid-trail, wings flushed
before my dog who whirled into winter-
dead weeds, through pearly-
everlasting which burst over her sable coat,
scattering silver seed.
If I tell you there are planets
in a dead plant, you'd call it spin.
But this was unstaged, random, unrecorded,
unrepeatable. Miracles seldom
have a sequel.
I kept following my dog through winter
woods. Unseen among evergreen, a raven
quoth, calling to its kind.
My dog nosed another
mud-frozen print. Someone had walked here
and was gone. Sun just past solstice,
chill to tingle the blood.
Three German Shepherds in an open jeep
on the bumpiest road.
Not a road, just somebody's sketch
of how to get from highway to the heart
of wilderness. My arms
around my two dogs, Jerry's dog lying
heavy on my feet; search gear gathered in
a hurry, stashed wherever it fit.
The jeep-jolt knocking my bones out of
And on this July morning, the vault
of heaven was a blue lake thin on oxygen.
I hadn't had much sleep. The call
just after midnight:
fisherman missing on a lake distant-blue.
Map showed a whole string of lakes,
like charms on a girl's bracelet.
Would we ever arrive at the right one;
get out of this jeep
so I could set out searching with my dog?
On the long dark drive up-
valley, up- mountain, a planet winked at me
through windshield, just left of Orion
and his trusty dog Sirius.
Let them, from their much higher vantage
point, join our search.