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Winter at Nisqually
The rusty gate hangs bolted upon the frozen ground. On either side blackberry and vine maple finger themselves into the swollen edges of the path.
A small rectangular shape glistens against the rusty bars, which hold it.
Black letters, painted on its surface, signal a bleak forewarning.
The yearly ritual has begun.
What a curious line of demarcation this is,
Once again, I am no longer welcome here
Once again, my eyes move across the dark hills searching for an answer
As if a great truth would appear, drifting down, soft like feathers,
I have memorized every breath and curve of this landscape,
The edges of the forest touching still water,
The sweet scent rising from brackish pools,
The sculptures of sand and mud, rock and bone.
Have all found their way here,
Now thunder shoots out in short, quick pops,
How easily sanctuary becomes a hunting ground,
Yet, each year, the winged ones faithfully return,
I have never seen the face of war or felt its insatiable hunger.
But I bleed with those who've vanished, whose voices go unheard.
Who continue to etch out their lives
Returning to life, from life, day after day,
Like the Canada geese nestling in winter's heavy grass,
The coldness of the metal feels warm in my hands now.
The gate moves back and forth as I inch between the locked post
Mist is beginning to fall, sweet and tender,
I walk toward an old oak where hawk is resting,
The slope of her neck eases into the shadows of the tree.
I follow the shapes of body and branch until there is nothing left but sky,
Then slowly turn for home.
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Last updated: January 15, 2005