Catherine Perry The 2River View, 9.4 (Summer 2005)
Roughing It

By the third morning, nothing but Goretex and a good filter.
The brays of elk, strayed magpies, owls.
Tin spit of hunger, and then, second spring:
Lupines and salmonberries, goats knuckling down to the lake.
A trout trapped in the sedge and baked with wild onions.

Four nights on the cinders, and nothing comes to me
But an old brown bear expecting pastries.
He shits green for the baiters,
In this, the eighth kind of ambiguity.

Under the trees, I can't tell the wind from the rain,
The way my old man confused rain and the sizzling eggs
No one eats these days, one more loss
Blessed as marrow in a hambone
Or the lard my mother cut into flour.

No fish this morning.

Sometimes one removes a sharp object penetrating
A loved one's body. Often the future's made
By those who burn their toilet paper in the woods.

I could strip down among the sego lilies, risk giardia,
Court the gods, except that I know a man whose son had never spoken
Until, moved by a sound, said, "That's a rail."
If the rail, his father figured, why not the moorhen, the nightheron.

Smoke over Canada. In a tree at the heel of the mountain,
Six ravens with their wings spread. In that sticky instant
Between lighting and leaving, who gets to say?

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