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.