Printed in The Meadow, 2011:
Buckeye Hot Springs
Just down the creek lie the ruins
of Buckeye Sawmill.
I curl around a sleeping dog’s back,
late sun sifting the crowns
of second growth pines along the bank.
How prosperous a place for a warm bath
after ripping and planking, the scent of sawdust
wafting in the summer of 1861.
Yet buckskinned men and roughened horses
couldn’t drag away the few ancient cedars
or single wall of trunk we passed today
gripping the loose ravine with knuckled roots,
fragments of old conversation high in the drainages.
Extrapolate the forest from tree, tree.
The difference in species doesn’t matter,
in sleep. The dog and I share a primal warmth
of breath and soil. I’d like to think
this was how a garden slept
before language separated,
as our island splits the gentle murmuring stream now,
the sucking and trickling of soft absorption,
the bank a sponge, and myself,
as if spelled. Nearby a young stag is just knowing
the velvet brown of antlers
no taller than his twitching ears.
He dips a narrow hoof and steps across
just below our sleeping heads lined up like lovers,
leaving no difference in sound.