Elizabeth Dodd


Two elk cross the immediate
field of sight, disappearing
into mountain forest
moss-deep green, like the dream

that sometimes finds the house:
in the side yard's grass and asters,
              canopied antlers:
caribou with outstretched necks—

We can hear the quick
hoof-beat drum;
                         they're gone.

Like an animal in the mind,
the dream has left my body
startled into watchfulness, my heart
fast footsteps on the pathway back
from sleep.
                         I've seen these
forms so clearly I could close
my eyes and call them back,
warm blood and charcoal,
painting themselves against
the nearby dark.

Once, a boy was lost,
deep snow and flimsy
jacket, sneakers already
soaked from the hours he'd wandered
through dusk-hung woods.

In the morning, found
at last by worried searchers,
he told how two brown forms
unfolded from the forest's depths
and gently settled, warm and breathing,
right beside him through the night;
they stayed until sunlight
crested a hilltop, illuminating

just where the boy returned, midmorning,
showing where the elk had bedded down
to save a tiny, furless child.

© Elizabeth Dodd

Books By Elizabeth