Eight YearsElizabeth Bradfield
We pulled snowshoes from the back and crossed the five-lane by the sports bar between two bad curves, headed to the bog. It was midday, sky low, traffic a light drone. We cinched straps, stomped teeth into the trailhead, took snapshots of ourselves and set off for the muffle of woods and the snow we hoped now would carry us, and mostly didn't, but still seemed somehow better as we followed tracks, reconstructed pounce and dodge, waiting for the place to raise voice. And when it didn't we turned toward home, stopped listening, and I started mugging for you, showing off, and I thought as I ran along the trail, snow slapping up the backs of my thighs, maybe we have found it, the thing where neither is better or cares or clocks the length. The thing that makes us beautiful. And when I turned to shout back, to tell you, what escaped was Moose. Dewlap swinging, shoulder hump rocking in gait, heading out of the trees the way I'd come, toward you. Somewhere, there's a tally sheet that reckons up how often we're able to say we're happy and mean it, and we just lost a point. The pencil's rising up from the paper, shadow dimming. Heads are shaking, truly sorry, long beards whispering shame, shame across their chests. But the moose ran out from the trees and I ran back to you and we stared and backed away together, frightened by the huge answer of its body.
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