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Home  >  Peer Work
By Susanna Mishler
Genre: Poetry Level: Adult
Year: 2001 Category: UAA/ADN Creative Writing Contest

for Maren

It was like forgiveness
when the caribou ran
toward us in the summer dusk, all
their bodies like one body,
a bead of liquid mercury flowing
down the green alpine valley.

We knelt on the damp tundra and
they turned suddenly away from
us, lunged up a snowfield, spilled into
another valley, leaving tufts
of hair, tracks, fresh droppings
burning into the snow.

I wonder now what it would have been like
if they hadn't turned, if they had surged
around us like a river around two stones.
I imagine us plunged into their gusting
breath and musky animal smell, I imagine

the galloping tremble of caribou hoofbeats
sounding in the earth under my knees
and that I extended an arm
to brush coarse flank hair with
my fingertips, and I imagine

that I really was a stone
washed in river water,
my color suddenly
brighter and deeper than
before my submersion.

The mountain silence mends itself.
I am still kneeling with you there
in that possibility, like
two stones on the soggy tundra,
our surfaces wet with deliverance.

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