Black boot on snow crunches
and the beaver, just a few feet away,
so slick and narrow of body,
dives into the water and disappears.
His brown fur gleamed in the sunlight.
Not like the two deer that one time years ago,
whose coats were a dull, soft brown and covered in ticks.
The male was skittish and moved further away
but the female, she stayed still, watching
as I inched closer until I could touch her flank
while our eyes locked and we created a moment
of acknowledgement. A moment of accord.
“But did you touch it?” My friend asked.
She still mourned her nephew, dead in the first days
of Afghanistan, 2001,
and who once touched a deer in the wild.
“No, I didn’t touch it.”
Her face relaxed, then smiled with satisfaction.
Her last words to him, “Don’t go.”