Alone in the Wild Dark

by Allen Braden

for Derek Sheffield

Locked outside
the cabin by the river,
with no starlight, no moon
tinseling ponderosa,
no tall wheatgrass
parting then sealing
each step taken,
still you can spot the blur
dropping down, clasping
some small wriggle.

Understand this is the last
gift. Fierce hunger honors
a life and lifts it now
over scrub pine, tree line,
snow pack, horizon.

Night after night,
season after season,
the shush of wings:
song of mole and snake,
spell of toad and mouse,
praise of shrew and sparrow.
Each time the talons strike
a blow, the beak welcomes,
one silence ingests another.
Loneliness? A short word.


Allen Braden is the author of A Wreath of Down and Drops of Blood and Elegy in the Passive Voice.  He has received fellowships from the NEA and Artist Trust.  His poems have been published online by Poetry Daily and Verse Daily.  A native of White Swan, Washington, he is the assistant poetry editor of A Journal of the Built + Natural Environments.