Barton Cabin 22

The fire is coals now, gray
stone cooling. At the edge
of dusk, a dog yips
and moans, its echo against the wall
of hemlock boughs
brings down the night.
Everyone here had a mother
once, even the moth dying
with the embers. Even the yelping hound,
but would he recognize his
if she crept into camp sniffing
for scraps?
We are all orphans of one
sort or another. The ghosts
of the fathers we should have had lay
cool fingers on our necks and guide us
into the missing embrace. Murmurs
in a foreign tongue ride
the low howl and snag
on branch, needle, ash.
It is not the dog after all. It is something else
slipping away
before we even turn our heads.
Out beyond the dark,
some small curtain

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