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Noah J. Guthrie

Hiking down through snaking vapor,

Down the pine wood's frost-bleached hill.

Behind me, the cabin's hearth fire

Pulses hot from scarlet sills,

Vomits tar up from its chimney

Over the hut of axe-hewn tree.

Boot treads press on petrous log.

I balance, heel past heel across

The slithering stream, its fog

Like white ichor, its scales of frost

Splitting, steaming up with smoke,

Where phantoms twist in marbled cloak.

Breath ghosting through my scarf, I spot

A white corkscrew, a tumor

Of plastic bags, enwrapped in river

Linens. I step down, the icy moss

Crackling, but as I reach out

To pull the tumor free, I recognize--a doe's snout.

She lies, scoured white by boreal

Stream, her legs leeched, elastic, sucked

Hollow, permeated by oracle

Creek. It flows from tail to snout,

Rippling tongue to prophesy.

As the vapor rises, I

Breathe it in, spirit snaking through

Throat and lung, its wine-dark venom

Scorching, ouroboros nesting anew,

Whorling with primeval wisdom.

My throat roils with the doe's drowned song

As I turn, trek uphill to the deadwood lodge.

Spring/Summer, 2020 Issue

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