Sunday, July 1, 2018




The saw-whet owl
slips into dense conifer,
not shy so much
as wary of our intrusion.

Likewise, the long-tailed weasel stays out of eye-range
and the fisher releases its grip
on the surrounds
for as long as we are in its territory.

It's dark out,
the time for nocturnal animals.
But we're less ruled by the sun.
take the trails at night
if the mood strikes.
And we feel more at home with nature
than it does with us.

A coyote howls freely
from somewhere beyond the lake, the hills.
Up close is our territory
but the distance is safe from us.


Twilight follows the contours of the trees,
wraps around a lone deer,
with dark, tender eyes,
who has come out of the woods
to befriend me.

I stop maybe forty yards away,
inch closer and closer.
Her coat ripples.
She can barely hide her happiness.

She’s coy though.
bows shyly as a shepherdess
but I know she’s totally infatuated
with the time of the day,
the moist food at her hoofs,
and my presence.

She is speckled light brown
with a flashing white tail.
Her throat is princess pert.
Her round black nose
breathes evenly as slowly passing time.

Any moment now,
she could trot over to me,
lick my hand,
nuzzle against my leg.

I do not understand
that her friendly gestures
are merely to distract me,
a subterfuge, to protect her fawn
that’s hidden close by.

But what do I care
if she’s merely playacting.
For me, the solitude of others
is a vacuum.
It often sucks my solitude right in.


The water is at the mercy
of seasons piling on,
winds blowing from the north
and packing ice,
as leaves shake from the trees,
settle on the surface
until soaked up by their surrounds,
dropped to the bottom.

With winter coming on,
I fear, as always,
for the creatures
as they seek the shelter
that I claim by right,
green frogs burrowing in mud,
turtles bunkering down
in a mulchy semi-hibernation.

Do they sense that far-away sun,
I wonder.
Are they assured that it will someday
seek them out,
reintroduce them into their proper place
among the living?

There is a boundary between
their world and mine.
In summer, it’s a thin, almost invisible line.
In December,
it’s a wasteland.


JOHN GREY is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Examined Life Journal, Evening Street Review and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Harpur Palate, Poetry East and Visions International.

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