Sentinels:

Whispering water in the ditch alongside the road

Flows clear amid the spiky rushes and then

Falls off to run, silky rippled and silver,

Towards the roiling river, amid the lush grass.

The first road kill deer skull lies alone,

Smooth and glistening dull white,

The second in company of its crumpled ribs.

Beyond the brambles of the embankment,

Past the fence topped with rusty barbed wire,

The green, sodden field strewn with small lakes,

Stretches away, marked only by a high leaping weasel,

Beyond, a dark serrated wall of distant firs.

Over the cattle guard and the yellow pipe gate,

Ignoring the no trespassing signs,

To fetch the muddy wheel ruts of the track

That follows the curves of the river.

Rain darkened cottonwoods hold vigil,

Stark and stiff branched, exposed and storm blasted,

Ripped and shattered limbed beauty,

Of duty and purpose, stand without question,

Reflected in the puddles, the same opaque tawny hue,

Of coffee and milk,

As the swollen angry river, gorged on earth, which grasps

Greedily beyond its channel to caress the scrawny

Willows along the bank in surging embrace.

Subtle, insidious, only gently, but persistently tugging,

Relentlessly urging, secretly hoping to

Tear loose the unsuspecting … and devour them.

Clouds race by untouched.