Waiting for the Guide to Return
The moose lay ruined on its back, listing downhill
on the clearcut, rent from stem to stern, legs canted
like the spars of a foundering ship. The last hour
of the last day of the season, and now we wait
for the winch and more muscle to haul the carcass
off the mountainside. From this height we watch the river
bottom fill with dusk as the sun descends. Autumn’s red
and yellow embers are snuffed to somber gray.
In the darkness that climbs the mountain like a tide,
in the silence of this shaman’s prefecture,
we push off from the shore through rising mists, as if
afloat within the moose’s empty hull. Night laps
against the horizon’s coast as we drift beneath
the dome of sky braced with ribs and sinew, washed
with the cool scent of spruce buds and yellow birch.
At last headlights appear at the mountain’s foot
like candles, and the yip and cry of coyotes
echoes through the valley like a choir.
Kevin Casey is the author of Ways to Make a Halo (Aldrich Press, 2018) and American Lotus, winner of the 2017 Kithara Prize (Glass Lyre Press, 2018). And Waking… was published by Bottom Dog Press in 2016. His poems have appeared in Rust + Moth, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Pretty Owl Poetry, and Ted Kooser’s syndicated column “American Life in Poetry.” For more, visit andwaking.com.