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About this Poem 

“The ‘wild animal,’ as far as I can see now, represents a psychic chaotic menace and a crisis of emotion. Whether the peril is over-worrying or deep despondency or something else, I think, is unclear even now. Even to me. I want to think I wrote the poem as a salve for the endangerment and as an utterance after the silences.”

—David Biespiel

With Passing Wonder I Notice the Tracks of an Animal

David Biespiel

It comes out of the language of nothing I recognize
Though it is something in you, at least as I keep
                                                     looking at you
And you turn back to me. I ought to have guessed
From the simple order of the tracks that you knew
Without looking what place in the wild night
The animal came from,
                     and through which of our windows
It has looked into, sometimes with an eye
On our waking, other times on our sleeping
                                          with the doorways open
Where, I suppose, the spirits of the defeated
Appear, white as lakes, carrying maps to someplace
Ahead of us, running now, and now you running,
And the animals guiding your footsteps,
Like a flake of snow,
You, without a single acquaintance among the spirits,
Or understanding, you so solitary in your running.
                                             And then the return—
And I assume you have nothing to say
And that if I wait there'll be only the waiting
Then nothing but a moment of darkness
And a surprising order stirring in the head
Shaking off the early morning cold.
Then all at once a door closing,
                     an hour of answerless letting go
Like a last hammer of blue sky
Cracking the light.

Copyright @ 2014 by David Biespiel. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on June 18, 2014.

David Biespiel

David Biespiel is the author Charming Gardeners (University of Washington Press, 2013). He is the president of The Attic Institute of Arts and Letters and lives in Portland, Oregon.