It’s always a dilemma when presenting a poem: how much to explain in advance, how much to assume the audience already knows? For the following piece, it’s kind of important to know what a drumming ruffed grouse sounds like. Ruffed grouse are common here, thriving in the mountain laurel cover on the northwest-facing slopes as much in the the wild grape tangles on the southeast-facing ravines. But one rarely sees a grouse until that heart-stopping moment when it explodes from cover a few feet away. As for gray foxes, it may help to know that they are quite secretive, crepuscular and arboreal (they can climb trees like cats, and some even nest in hollow trees up to thirty feet off the ground). Gray foxes are always in residence on the mountain – due in part to the abundance of prey species such as ruffed grouse – but seeing one is a rare treat. They appear and disappear with noiseless stealth, and when seen display a calm fearlessness that leads one to believe almost that they have revealed themselves for some obscure purpose.



Blink once & the gray fox
standing on a stonepile at
the edge of the woods
is gone

Blink again & the trees disappear
the soil & everything in it
leaving the briefest
of afterimages
(say biomass
say overburden)

Whatever’s left of the world
gets swept up in the wings
of a drumming grouse
that cellar hole of sound
that palpitation

As if some massive &
resilient thing were
suddenly let go from a great height
rebounding each time
a little less until
what sounds like
an acceleration

(nothing but the onrush of inertia)

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