A Footprint in the Snow. The Snow Fills It in.

by Jesse DeLong

In the forest, in the snow, five miles past my house
I found a fieldguide. Not as damaged as you would
think, the pages, grey with hail, still held, ink blurred
at the edges, as if whatever important it had
to say was out of focus. As if winter planned to write
not love notes, but of how the bird’s brown bruises
on sky scarred its margins in shadow. This winter
was the last spent wondering why your eyes

are different shades. The bird seemed to understand,
& kept its distance, weary, the field its guide
to how large a shadow can loom. Bird, a clump of rat bones
lodged in my throat. I went inside, set the fieldguide down
where it situated sunlight around its dust. There is no end
to light & shadow, only ourselves doubled over
& over through a field, guided by how skin scatters

vapors. There is no end to you & I, only the way
we spend every day pretending to forget.
Then why does it feel like someone has
thrown rocks at my lungs? Before you left, I pretended we
still held close to the hallelujah of our sweat. We could still
cross the field without giving away whether one, or no,
or two people had been strong enough, or restrained enough,
to tread across the field without leaving any markings.

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