My years ask no more than a view
Of birds, perched small and drab, that, flushed,
Flash wingtops briefly, brightly blue.
I was hiking down to the trailhead
Through evening woods–fir, spruce–
Creel empty, trailsides lush
In asters, ferns, bluebells.
Nobody passed or met me.
The trail lay broad, lay open,
Grade slight, ground soft, sun low.
I watched for mule deer, breathed
Air rising through sweet leaves:
A long hike but still good,
With good miles still ahead.
Then, down the way, I saw it:
A brown thing and sleek-hipped,
In mid-trail, nose uphill,
Noiseless amid the flowers.
It saw me; stopped; sniff-sniffed,
Swung toward me. I stood still,
Calm, but changing all thoughts
About miles yet to be.
Then it turned once again,
Silk-fat like Henry the Eighth,
Slipped uphill and was gone.
The way clear now, I walked
On down the flowered trail,
Glad to have distance left,
Glad that what I had faced
Seemed no surprise, and just.
Donald Mace Williams, a Texan, is a retired newspaper writer-editor and journalism professor. He has a book of poetry, Wolfe and Other Poems, and two novels. His poems and translations have run in about forty magazines, including Rattle, Measure, Barrow Street, American Arts Quarterly, and Metamorphoses. His Ph.D. from the University of Texas is on the line structure of Beowulf.