The Stag

(from Liberty)

I walk here nearly every day,
But today felt different.

A quality in the air.
A haunting stillness.

Quiet amplified the sound
Of birds, more than usual,

Splashing around the spot where
Snowball usually stops for water,

Punctuated by a racket beyond
A thick bracket of trees,

I moved toward the sound,
Unheeding my mother’s voice

Reminding me I shouldn’t be walking
Alone here in the first place.

Gingerly stepping over stones
That bridge the water,

I landed on the other side where
Others rarely seem to go

I looked around for the cause of
The sound and find everything

In order, the stagnant stream,
The grounding tree with above-

Ground roots, and the pebbled
Passage of the dry creek bed.

His movement startled me.
I had been looking in his direction

But hadn’t seen him in the thicket
Until he announced himself

With a subtle grace that signaled
Both warning and welcome.

I remembered Snowball by my side
And quickly put her on a leash,

Though she seemed to know that
Absolute presence was required.

Majestic, transcendent,
He looked at me and I at him.

And we were not afraid.