Blackbird an online journal of literature and the arts Spring 2008 Vol. 7 No. 1




Half buried in gravel and winter on
a dawn-damp Colorado trail,
the elk antler trembled as I dug it out.
It woke in my hand like a dowser’s wand—

and has kept now twenty years
a ceaseless peace on my bookshelf,
being in this room the one power
that is wordless.

It traces a memory of rivers,
branching as if the path it has traveled,
dead end after dead end,
is the only way into the high places.

Chill to the touch, smelling of an other
earth both vanished and wholly present;
yellowish and streaked white, ribbed
with shadow like old snow, it’s a rough

mirror of the night-tined candelabra
whose blown fire has led me to see in the dark.
Who can say it is not alive, this knowledge and map
of the country of going away?
                                                What song

might burn where my own bones fork
in the sculpting darkness beyond all reason?
where the beast rages on the steep rock,
in ice-ridden, star-barbed, always
                                                      waking season?  

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