Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Something in the night


The light flickered through the trees,
Something behind them, a Jeep up
On the knoll, someone getting ready
To do something in the night.  While we
Watched and waited, something swept
By us from behind.  I didn’t know it
Then and Ben and Duffy didn’t hear

But perhaps they sensed a tiny bit.  Duffy
Growled.  We turned and looked back
The way we had come.  It was much
Darker then, the sundown red
Had turned to gray.  The day had
Ended.  Ben growled as well.
After countless hikes with nothing

More threatening than coyotes
I had stopped carrying a gun.  I had
My Marine Corps’ Ka-Bar and a hiking
Stick.  I fished about in my pocket for
The flash and turned it on.  No glistening
Eyes shined out of the darkness, but
Something plodded closer.  We could

Hear its steps.  Duffy barked and I
Searched with the light.  I saw
Ben’s hackles.  “Let’s keep going,”
I told them, and we moved out
Onto the river sand away from the
Brush.  Something whined, not
A coyote but deeper, more

Like a large dog or wolf.  We kept on
Down the center , Duffy on my left,
Ben on my right.  Whatever followed
Wasn’t closing the distance.  When
We got to the Jeep, I opened the doors.
Duffy jumped in the front and Ben in
The back.  As quickly as I could I took

My knapsack off, got in and closed the
Doors.  We sat there for a moment
Listening.  The night had become
Windy.  A tumble-weed climbed up on
Our hood and sailed over the top.
I started the engine and eased out,
Using both sets of headlights.  I could

Then see its shadow standing there
Watching, bigger than Ben,
Eyes glistening, dark intelligence
evaluating the night and us.  Duffy
Stood on the center console growling
Ben positioned between the seats
Whimpered in agitation.  I pulled

The Jeep ahead and turned left up
Toward the road.  Ben whirled on
The seat to watch it through the rear
Window.  Later in the night we slept
Fitfully in my study.  The wind’s
Howling waking us from time to time.
In the morning we drove back, but

The wind had wiped clean most of the
Tracks.  We found two that seemed
Marginally larger than Ben’s, but
Perhaps the wind had spread the lines
And they were merely his. I thought
About what it was, a large dog most
Likely, perhaps a deerhound or maybe

The wolfhound I saw someone walking
Last year.  Perhaps it sought company
As we fled before the wind.  Perhaps it
Was back there in the brush with coyotes
Fore and aft waiting for it to leave.  Ben
Lifted his head and howled.  From a
Mile away we heard an answer, perhaps

A howl, but it could have been some
Trucker’s air horn or a siren, but it seemed
Howl-like and we listened for more. 
Perhaps I imagine things that aren’t here,
But does Ben have the same imagination?
Perhaps I imagine someone who was here
But is no longer, someone I would have

Told about the wolf or giant dog which
We saw only in shadow and not nearby.
But it didn’t confront us nor we it.  There
Was the wind.  I would have mentioned
That, blowing the sand and weeds, obscuring
What might be back there when a night
Is dark and only the shadows can listen.

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