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March 15, 2023

Night Vision

Ron Tobey

Sunday I identify coyote paw prints

in the lightly snowed tractor ruts in Oak Alley

close to our goats’ shed and paddock

follow a deer path through the wood up the ridge

The pack howls across the hollow

2 AM kill

pups yip

feed on meat regurgitated by the hunters

startled I rise from bed confused

stumble into bathrobe stab feet into slippers

leave our log cabin lights off

on the porch wet deck planks

I stare into cold darkness

toward third growth trees between spreading fields


34 degrees Fahrenheit

I listen for distress calls from the goats

flashlight casts a focused beam 200 yards

scan their shed

they are inside

I imagine huddled closely

a mound of white Winter fur in a corner


no glimpse of prowling predators

still would the 4.5 kilovolt fence wire

keep them away

this guardianship

this delirium

what calls me out

          xylophone unstruck

          leather hammer in tatters

          metallic bars rust

four days before Christmas

black cloud cover promises snow

I can’t observe Jupiter and Saturn in conjunction

planētēs in passing

the Bethlehem Star

only the moon

small and blurred and far

I hear a Gilyak lullaby

our great ancestral mother

in her small log and grass hut

a tribal Winter camp

perched on a treeless plain

a sandstone seashore cliff

north coast of Sakhalin Island

sings to her fussy baby who can’t sleep

as the sun sets in the West

on the clamorous Siberian Steppe

           Pink peach blossoms juice

          sweet always love on your lips

          your hands hold the sun

fish and tide beckon East

the Bering land bridge

what did she know

of flourishing salmon fisheries

hunting ranges herds of deer

forests vibrant with tall trees

she sings

          branch sifts powder snow

          forest floor sleeping below

          whispers in silence


RON TOBEY grew up in north New Hampshire, USA, and attended the University of New Hampshire, Durham. He and his wife live and farm in West Virginia. He is an imagist poet, expressing experiences and moods in concrete descriptions in haiku, lyrical poetry storytelling, recorded poetry, and in filmic interpretation. Twitter: @Turin54024117

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