A Mountain Lion Makes Ready

The butte in snow is a hand, palm up, to catch
stray bits of sagebrush, ghostly pines, to pass you
to the sky. In preparation, you forsake

the moon, traverse like hunger the high winter
pastures. Everything ascending leaves
its track—a red fox drops a chain of sprig-

sized cups, a snowmobile spits up a long
gnawed ribbon, and the lunging dogs carve
dragon backs—which snow discloses and will hide

in time. Winter is a slow magician, and you
leave little to illusion—willows dangle
your scent like so much ice; the ground nurses

blood of the one-eyed mule; even the shuddering pine
you climb at dawn unfurls gold filaments
over the yelping dogs each time you shift

a haunch. Below, a black creek cuts the world
you rule in two, and the arriving engine whines
like nothing you have heard or killed before.