Some sound outside has raised our heads
Made us look into the eyes of one another.
You by the kerosene lamp glowing into your
Face and hair, knitting needles down in your lap.
I pull on high boots and wool shirt
Walk out to the dogs on their chains
Muzzles sniffing to the hillside.
We wait, beneath a clear wash of moonlight,
For sure we’re heard something and we’ll freeze
To hear it again — there, low bark, speaking from
A darkness left in the woods, excites the malamute
To circle his hut, piss on the pine he’s tied under.
No stir or movement up there, though these barks are
Moving across the face of the night, striking out
From some loss or pain, wearing down a trail.
I leave the dogs whining to go to the river
Rushing deep and flashing white light of the sky.
This is the clearest night yet for October
Frost webs open ground
Deer everywhere must be fattening on mushed apples.
A howl, now straight across from me —
I can’t see the bear but know it’s a bear,
The call it makes fills that body.
In a moment it will be farther away
Gone back into the hairs of darkness.
I hear nothing more, as if I’ve heard enough —
Now the middle of the night.
Soon that white light will rise out of the river.
© Bob Arnold
from Where Rivers Meet
(Mad River Press)
photo © bob arnold