You live on these mountains,
these Alleghenies, among the laurelâ€”
imbued with its same tenacious, rugged beauty
and the bedrock: sandstone and quartzite,
–sheltered by long forgotten flags
of maple and oak inextricable
with the black-beaded greenbrier curtains
that veil these hills.
Fleet-footed phantom of these mesophitic forests,
gliding silently among the ragged tops
of steel gray birch, bright cherries–
limbs laden with solstice buds and promise,
through the heavy, foreboding arms
of pine and hemlock that darken the forest floor.
you leave scant little remembrance:
light scent floating above triangular tracks
in the too deep snow,
atop shaggy, green-bearded windfalls.
Fierce-eyed raptor bird,
where are your talons?
You must have left them as you stumbled
in some dark hollow
while grazing grapes–drunk on that fallâ€™s vintage.
You terrify me with the black of your eyes
and the thunder of your wings
as they rip the thin mountain air.
Whose heart beats faster at your flush?
I have breathed deep the piquant
banquet of your crop,
inhaled the story of your day
before we met, and mourned
the details of our exchange.
I have feasted
on the white succulence of your flame-kissed
bitter laurel and sweet grape
in each sample.
I have celebrated your wildness
with a dirge of sauces and sautÃ©s,
that in consuming you
I could never possess your spirit.
I donâ€™t know why I am
whose heart both sinks and soars
at your every disappearance
over a ridge,
or into the dank, piney bottom
of some unsurpassable swamp
where I will not follow.
And at each fall–
each time I hear your wings
thrash the ground
doggedly refusing what the brain
Each time I feel
your warm weight
in the pouch at my back
I feel a joy mirrored by my dogsâ€™ eyes
and the mirth in their smiles.
But they cannot know the sad
admiration that comes as I stroke
the ruff of your neck
and fan your tail.