In media res

Out on my porch before first light, sipping my coffee, I think: If I were viewing these trees for the first time . . . & just like that they shift, turn strange. I’m looking back in time, at woods seen only once & apart from everything. But then a raccoon comes out of the culvert, moving stiff-legged in rapid circles on the icy crust, so much like a child’s wind-up toy, it’s hard not to laugh. After a few minutes he catches my scent. Rears up on his hind legs to get a better look.

*

Gray dawn. The chickadee stops in the middle of his feebee chant & drops half an octave.

*

I was out on the glare ice at noon; the moon was higher than the sun but completely invisible at the end of its monthly rope. The ground & the sky were like two smooth stones. In the spruce grove I found the carcass of a doe with her throat ripped open, a gash below her ribs where the succulent bud of a fawn had been folded by. A nuthatch was going tick tick tick in a locust tree. I kept to the ice so my boots didn’t squeak in the thin, here-&-there patches of dry powder. One patch was etched with lines of arrows that pointed toward wild turkeys – or rather, in the opposite direction. Crossing the field I had to squint, the blue veins reaching out from the edge & at the center a bright gash, a gaping hurt.

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