Under One Roof

At night, when one son sighs

loud enough to wake me, and turns

in his sleep, I balance gratefully for a time

between a late and an early hour.

Something's alive in the woodshed, I hear it -

maybe it's only the ermine

that snaked last week through the cellar, or

a raccoon keeping house with our help:

Today I left open the attached barn's door

for the sake of the wren in the haymow

who pattered her frantic wings

against the graying glass. Bats above

slice from the eaves into trees

like sleeves of darkness swiftly

brushing clear the sky. Downstairs,

footprints will let on that deer,

when unknown and unwatched,

peer in at the lowest windows, curious

to see their cousins: sheep curled inside

their dusty unspun fleece.

Sometimes a moose

crosses our clearing as if measuring

the distance from woods to woods.

We could miss the crackle of her steps

across the pasture, that distinct tone

of turf crunching under the stride

of all that mass, if we didn't step outside

to review the sky before we retire, returning

the wild's gaze in a kind of tame exchange.

By day the red squirrel competes with grosbeaks

for birdseed we leave on the railing,

and another bird picks off a moth

from the window warmed by full sun.

Now the children make animal murmurs

in their dreams, while the call of the loon

on its lake a mile away

enters clearly over the threshold here,

and a coyote's morse code spills

down the mountain slope, slipping through the rafters,

through the midnight, and through me.

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