Ten Haiku Written at 3600 Metres

high on Tincup Pass
thunderclouds form — but far south
a plump pika cries

bumble bee dances
on alpine golden aster
holiday begun

at twilight an owl
curious, cocked his wide head
two-legged elk? he asked

three a.m. panic:
eclipse made me pitch black blind
or else — cap on eyes

the climb short but steep
I hurry to set up camp
sleeping bag leg cramps

done! a fair exchange:
I gave up my trekking pole
the trail offered rain

waiting for David
to get down off the mountain
I’ve finished six poems

switchbacks ease the climb
so why do they seem more like
switchblades in the back?

like a kid’s squeeze toy
pika wants to hide and seek
but I ain’t playing

a skanky motel
outside of Buena Vista
but — Magic Fingers!

Cow and Calf

For the third time in three years,
walking in the wilderness,
I surprise two moose,
a cow and a calf.

The cow complains, moves on
with a bovine grunt
calling the little one.

Her hair is edged with black,
the brown on her flanks so deep
you could drown in it.
She’s as tall as a draft horse and fast:
if she wanted to,
she could cover the ground between us
before I could stand up.

So I sit,
feeling a pinprick of guilt
for having intruded /

and yet,
how can I take my place in the wild,
how can I be — what’s the phrase? —
a good animal,
without lightly disturbing it?
Nothing here wants me passive:
the forgotten relation come home
to mope and grieve,
the one who sits at the edge of the fire,
the one no one speaks to,
not the sky
not the rock
not the water and the water hemlock,
and not the bat-faced calf
his eyes fixed on mine
reluctant to leave.