Naming and Claiming

Another sleepless night. More than usually alert
after the long slow train with its intermittent
whistle, the last one of the day at 11:15. Chorus
of yard dogs scattered over the far hill. They, too,
must hear the wild movements in the noisy leaves.
They call out: who goes who goes who goes
and I’m here I’m here I’m here like the cartoon
bark chain: Deer afoot! Foxes! Rabbits! Like them,
I rise to the sounds of trespass—ha! I’m the intruder
here in my house on stilts—to look out in the full
moon light for whatever stirs. I know there’s no harm
to me, big two leg with my human stink, my headlamp
that picks out frightened eyes at ground level. Still.
At last, it’s the owl, one I heard pick off some prey,
the landing and then each feather’s swoop in under-
brush. Later contentedly cooing its unmistakable who—

Who, indeed. I wake so vulnerable and let’s face it
homesick. I’ve been away almost two weeks already
not just in distance but into the deeps of early wounding.
Memory is a chimera. What’s buried in the mind
dwells quietly in the body. What I recalled of trespass
against my innocence has little content, yet nudges me
in its awakening to bring me, too, awake; vigilant.

Even in the bright lunar light, even in the safety
of a rural road, few homes, all who know why we’re here
which is to write and keep to ourselves. Even in trees—
trees! —my lifelong companions and friends, there’s
if not fear then alertness to what harm is possible
on this farm, this road, this land with its history of loss.

And in loss, we know love. Love is the love of who we are,
it is a form of knowing. And now I am the love for what I lost.

Subhaga Crystal Bacon is the author of four collections of poetry. Her third collection, Surrender of Water in Hidden Places, winner of the Red Flag Poetry Chapbook Prize was released in April of 2023. Transitory, her fourth is forthcoming from BOA Editions in the fall of 2023. A graduate of the Warren Wilson MFA Program for writers, her first book, Elegy with a Glass of Whiskey, won the 2003 A. Poulin, New Poetry America Prize from BOA Editions. Since that time, her work has appeared in a variety of print and online journals, and she’s been nominated for both the Pushcart and Best of the Net prizes. She offers poetry instruction to individual students and small groups, and is a teacher in the Trillium Awakening spiritual path. She lives and creates in the spacious North Cascade Mountains with her partner, Sugandhi Katharine Barnes, whose painting, Stella Polaris, is the cover art for Subhaga’s second collection, Blue Hunger.

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