My son guides me up the long hill squelching in run-off, along trails narrow as goat paths through the trees to show me the strewn bones of a deer nested in her shed shreds of fur, almost golden, where some wood spirit laid her to rest, and the coyotes and crows stripped her, leaving only a hoof and furred knuckle intact among a clutter of collapsed ribs. He shows me the clean white vertebrae, the pelvis with its odd eye hole, the knee still attached with some last rope of sinew. This is his find, stumbled on as he tried his new spring legs in a downhill, helter-skelter run, and stopped, and stared, and in his eleven year old mind knew that this was the stuff of running undone, something the receding snow left for him personally, a sign of winter’s weight. We eye it together. We go down on our knees to gather pieces of the witchcraft mystery. The grey trees around us are also bones that click and chatter in the wet wind of almost spring. The brown limpid eyes are gone. The crumbling gnarl of spine, once nerved and tremulous, is now only a train wreck the grass will hide in a month’s time. We feel the doorway of earth opening. We feel the thinness of our skins and the prickling of short hairs rising. We know what’s at the bottom of things, how soon the mayflies will be dancing their measured reels of the evening.
Michael Jennings was born in the French Quarter of New Orleans and grew up in east Texas and the deserts of southwestern Iran before graduating from the University of Pennsylvania and the Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Syracuse University. He is the author of eight books of poems, most recently Silky Thefts from Orchises Press and Bone-Songs and Sanctuaries: New and Selected Poems from The Sheep Meadow Press. He is also an internationally recognized breeder and judge of Siberian Huskies and the author of three books on the breed.