Winter

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The day was close, overcast like a grey belly
pressing against my skin. Already
the stink of pennyroyal
in the swamp. Our new dog
pounded through the shallows
sooling himself at imagined animals,
flinging showers from his silver-bluish coat.

Or seeing the dark among the trees
would return from this uncertainty,
stare at me with his strange blue eyes.
Then barked at belligerent crows
scattering on tree tops, their torn wings,
black fingers prodding the grey.

I kept to the track, the dark clay
patched with cinders, imprint
of tractor tyres like wintering fossils.
Past the sodden paperbarks,
rotting leaves spilling from crevices,
dodder vines tangling in the branches.

To where the brown, flooded river
leant on our bridge. I saw like pain
the dog run too suddenly to the slimy edge
slide on this greasy jaw of the river—
and was gone, gulped under,
dragged beneath the bridge by driftwood
smooth, crooked as severed limbs.

I groped in the froth along the edge,
kneeling on all fours, my eyes pounding
at the grey-green slime on the boards.
Felt the distended belly of the river
bump under the bridge;
claw marks deep in the wood.

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