by Naomi Ruth Lowinsky
We’re in the dark again, on uneven ground, where only shadows know the way. Your breath is my compass; your hand is the North Star. What have we stumbled into? Stag’s skull crowns a tent of bones. We are to sleep here.
Remember the stag in Ashland? We stared at him through window glass; he stared at us, especially you. May the spirit of stag fill you with forest lore—how to leap over thickets, blend into trees, lose the predator, lose antlers, grow new ones in spring.
Something burrows below, rooting about in what we can’t fathom. A badger leaps out of the dark, bites your neck, claws your chest. I try to scream but can only stammer… If this is a dream, wake me. If this is a fairy tale, send in the woodsman. If this is my shadow, I’ll strangle him.
In the world before you, Wolf Man reigned. He huffed, he puffed, he blew my house down. In the world of your love, I am held all night long. In the world beyond, will you know my face, my name?
Seeking sleep in a circle of bones, I hear you breathe, I touch your hand.