Today's poem is by Rennie McQuilkin

The Tracking

Mercury shrinks to its bulb,
the lake freezes fast
to black ice. I see myself
reflected there

and a long Walleye so slowly
passing through my head
it might be a fixed idea.
Now the stars

begin their glittering,
coy-dogs their yip and yowl.
They call me out to celebrate
the Hunger Moon,

old skull in the sky.
And a cry cuts through the coys.
The lake is the white
of a wild eye.

At its heart, dark pupil,
a crippled White-tail
spins, is going nowhere—
the cry echoes from all sides.

In sudden silence what strikes
is elegant, goateed,
precise. The deer is frozen—
she seems to know

what the lynx
must do. On slash, she kneels;
a single lunge, her throat
is open.

Her death scream lasts
all night. In the first spill of sun
I trace the tracks
to the cache

I force myself to know—
ribs broken into, empty cage,
eyes staring
at me. I enter the dark

evergreens. Where the prints
are far apart, I lope,
where closer, I slow,
and where they join, stop,

turn sharpened ears. At noon
I see the lynx, dappled by sun,
oriental in the languor
of its alert. I fire in the air

and continue to fire
long after it retreats, fire
in fury,
celebration—I have no idea.

Copyright © 2005 Rennie McQuilkin All rights reserved
from Getting Religion
Antrim House
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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