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Eight Years

Elizabeth 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.

Elizabeth Bradfield

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