Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2022  Vol.21  No. 1
an online journal of literature and the arts
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That winter we could hear the hillside breathing
below our bedroom window every night,
a heavy shaggy exhale with no inhale
as if a thing was breathing from its roots
and came to breathe the night away against
the outer clapboards, where in summer, wasps
came quavering with grass stem cargos to lodge.
It wasn’t a hive’s mind at work, but I’m not sure,
and it was winter and the hill leaned like a bear
and huffed, that’s right, huffed against the wall
right underneath our bedroom window until dawn.
We stopped noticing until it also stopped.
And there were nights when we turned out our lights
when the breathing did not start again; we waited
and fell asleep to each other’s resting breathing.
Too big to be a raccoon or a possum, but not
to be a doe in a safe place among the japonica.
And I have thought perhaps it was a sign
the mind gives of what’s to come in dreams,
this being a kind of vigilance. When it was gone,
we missed it but soon stopped missing or giving it
shape, that bear which never showed itself by day,
that coyote or pregnant doe or exhausted vagrant,
creatures of the night, so imaginable
that you wouldn’t want to find out what they were,
depriving you forever afterward
of that peace of mind you need when you drop off.  

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