Minks Barely dawn, I bring my sleepless weight to the lake, but not even the tannic fresh of balsam can toss it from me. Then a few feet away a snout pokes out from a pocket of roots. She pulls free with three more trailing in a velvet line. They funnel into the sheep laurel, drowsy with blossoms that barely tremble from the slip of their skins, sable so radiant, deep as mercy. And as if that were not enough, seeing four at once, the last and smallest and most curious stops, all still paws and twitching tail, to get his fill of me until a chittering calls him to dive into the laurel, a gasp of musk in his wake. I knew when you returned, my shadow mood. You arrived weeks ago and unpacked with creeping deliberation your dark luggage, thought by sinking thought, while I minced about on sock toes in demanding silence. But now I see—yours is thankless work, delivering what’s needed. Me, for one, to the gaze of creature kin where I might throw off this dense, dull mat of distance between me and splendor.
Sylvia Karman’s work has appeared in Delmarva Review, Blueline, and Writing the Land, among others. She lives in the Adirondack mountains of New York and in central Maryland where she hikes and writes for the love of the journey. You can visit her at www.sylviakarman.com .