methow grist 2011-2014 archive


Up Twisp River

Five dogs--
eager, taut-muscled hounds,
lunged alongside Twisp River
by the cougar's scent
on the heavy, sodden snow.

Imagine the chase.

Three miles up
they encircled her at the river's edge,
    in haunch-deep, bloody snow--
a doe's ragged carcass in her claws.

She leapt up
a shaggy-limbed pine,
stretched upwards, into the slate-colored sky
and clung there.

Two men
followed the noise from transmitter collars,
the shill yelps, the frantic baying,
to the scene of snarl and scream:

                       One man
                  raised his rifle,
                  held it steady.

Her long tawny body dropped
through the cool,
            turbulent air.

that cougar's final growl
as a futile sort of prayer for wings,
           or mercy--
just as improbable ,
        and as rare.


Linda M. Robertson