Josh Hanson


It is this deer's skull half-buried here,
The white arc of its teeth bridging
The moist earth, its shade a cold home
For the salamander wrapped dormant
Around its clutch of eggs, the ribs rising
Beneath the thin skin of moss and hair.

It's you and me, say, walking naked
Through the abandoned campground
As the forest quietly reclaims itself,
Sends shoots into the ash of fire-pits,
And draws obscurely numbered posts
Down in a wild tangle of berried brush.

Across the stream, a wide grove of trees
Quiet with the stillness of a living thing,
Half-buried bones sprouting fern.
Could we nestle, curled down together
Into this soft hollow, warm pocket of air
Where once a fallen body lay?

But we walked then, unknowing,
Bones measured against our nakedness,
Feathers lifting gently at our breath,
And our footsteps hollowed the earth.
And suddenly, the bones took flesh
When all the world turned bird and tree.

The echo of the little birds leaping,
Dropping through the high branches,
Turns every bone hollow, whispers
The high grass against our thighs
And our fall is like flight, so lightly
We tangle our blood-quick limbs.

Date of Birth: June 15, 1974
Location: Eureka, California
Publications: Diagram, Words on Walls, Three Candles, Rock Salt Plum, etc.
Other: Graduate of the Montana Writing Program

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