by Gary Gildner
The cougar who prowls my mountain came down
close today and looked at me in my corral
- we looked at each other. A fine mist
lay among the wild oats growing there and there
he stood, not moving. I was on my knees.
Over his shoulder I could see Gospel Hump
an hour away, still covered with snow.
It was quiet and raining lightly and my hands
which had been cold from pulling up
thistles, were now warm.
For a moment I wanted nothing more
than to lie in the snow on Gospel Hump and slowly
move my arms, making a great angel.
Then I wanted my father to be alive again
and see this magnificence with me –
we wouldn’t have to say anything,
I would just hold his hand.
Everything was very clear – the pointy buds
on my plum trees nearby, his eyes, the dark whorls
the knots make in the boards of my fence.
I wanted to see him shake his head in wonder.
Just once. The way he did after finishing a tough job,
or when he had to admit he was happy.
I don’t know how long the cougar stayed,
but I was glad to see him turn and go back –
he went back as smoothly it seemed as a trout
in water – and I returned to my thistles
whose almost silky white root slips out
so easily when it rains.