A nameless beaver sprang the trap.
Must have swum through it on his way up shore.
The two dogs, Jax and Cleo, crouched in their winter coats,
Gripped and pulled,
But the snare held,
Jealous of its prey.
I found them:
Red paw prints in the savaged snow,
Scrabbling blindly at the brink.
They parted for me.
I freed the carcass.
Carried the trophy to the pen
To keep the collies off the goats–
The neighbour’s goats.
I threw the carcass down.
The dogs converged,
Patience and awe giving way to greed.
I watched awhile,
Then turned to human things.
There were two dams below the house:
The calf-deep creek
Bloated to drowning-depth in two black ponds.
Nights with a flashlight, brimstone eyes
Cruising the surfaces.
The still woods bristled:
Brute remains of silent-rooted trees,
Victims of mammal industry,
Woven in muddy, water-rotted domes.
Green shapes yield to strangling ash,
Thicken and round out.
I try my foot on the narrow creek.
Listen for shifting,
Feel the seams,
Shuffle another pace or two.
The dogs and I
Walk the half-glowing road
Onto the pond,
Ingrown eye scanning the scratched slab,
The wind-laid pavement.
Now each breath
Savors its passage through the lungs
Rampant with icy lights–
And tall between,
As he breathes.
Mark Penny has published with WIZ, and won last year’s Admin Award in the Spring Runoff. He was a finalist in the Goldberg’s “Four Centuries” competition in 2012. He recently founded “The Lowly Seraphim,” an “e-collective” for speculative Mormon fiction.
Photo “Beaver dam in Tierra del Fuego” via Wikimedia Commons.