Election Returns 2016
The way up the mountain was like always:
switchbacks & more switchbacks,
the trail rising through redwoods arced
over a silence rinsed with new rain.
We were in an emerald world
of fern & mist & moss trembled
with tiny glass beads. It was dusk
and late fall. We knew
what would happen & in what order:
we’d be made to suffer for a few hours
before reaching the summit
then would emerge above the fog.
Yes, there were portents: maple leaves
pasting the trail with bloody handprints,
evergreens brittle & brown, a few
manzanita oddly in bloom. Lake water
like pewter, faint reek of smoke
we hoped came from a controlled burn.
We went on walking the trail
by memory, memory that also held rain
after drought & wild iris massed like stars.
We walked till we came upon what was left
of the deer: a white basket of rib cage
that looked almost human, matted fur,
tags of torn flesh. On the way down,
it would all become clear, but even
then we understood: it was a fresh kill,
and the cougar was close. We looked around
to see who among us was prey
and we understood, then, what would happen.
First published in Zyzzyva.