Ospreys orbit here, ruling as lords
Their drowned domains. We row watercourses
Through miles of lily pads, hoards
Of hemlock, spruce groves, and grim fortresses
Of alder swamp. Millions of years flood
This place, where salamanders slide in mud.
Our Depression-era log cabin warms
When we return in rain. When the storm passes
We stir fire from damp wood. It squirms and thirsts
In muggy air, struggles up and catches barks.
The pit smokes. A winding helix of sparks
Climbs when a wet log pops and bursts
Its musty treasure of grubs to the furnace.
Above, a colonnade of oak glows and forms
Like candles on cathedral triforia.
The flames are my phantasmagoria.
Higher, a cloud, like a skull, with a grin
Too mild to scare, masks the moon. It sheers
Apart in light to frost, feather, fin—
A thing that never slows and always nears.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 32 Number 10, on page 29
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