Morning at the End of the World
Yesterday’s slush is now clods and streams of ice we
crunch through, the dog with his long clicking claws
and I with my strap-on cleats on my Canadian
Thinsulate boots. It is only the morning, and us,
and a thin eery fog coloring everything grey
like a veil, a thin film, a membrane behind which
things are going on. Perhaps. In houses. But I doubt it.
There is just me and the dog, each in our arctic snowsuit,
and all the stuff of the world, the clutter of houses and
roofs and churned up mounds of snow are not even
asleep. They are empty. We pass. And then, like the
flash of a knife glimpsed in the fog of a film noir alley
there is a tension in this fog too. I sense danger lurking
behind the veil and cast sharp glances ahead, to the side,
a quick pivot to peer into the way we’ve come.
We are not being followed. Or stalked. It is the moose I sense.
The creatures who own this world. The only ones that move
through it at ease, breaking and crashing and cutting
a swath through the grey ice world. But they can be silent too.
Like now. They can take on the shapes of trees, their thin
spindly grey legs disappearing against the snow, their bodies
a mass of trunks and branches, each moose the size of
a small grove, together they are a forest, and that is why
you don’t see them until they break out of the sky
and float toward you with high prancing steps and cloven
hooves more dense and sharp than all your bones combined.
I don’t see them, but I know they are there, angry
because yesterday one of their young was shot
right here on the ski trial, by a man with a gun
in a snowsuit and Thinsulate boots. They would
think I am him. All night they have been planning
their revenge. Being dumb they do not understand
the calf had broken its leg. Being dumb they had not
been able to help it up. There was no other way, I tell
the tense morning as it closes in. It was an act of
humane kindness, I reason to the heads of trees
and the stretched membrane of sky. And anyway,
it wasn’t me. I don’t own a gun. Or the dog, he can’t shoot,
I plead to the world that doesn’t respond. It is asleep
or already gone.