Incident Along the Elwha River

After washing our tin plates clean
in the slim creek
we watch the sunlight gather on far
eastern peaks—an iridescent blue
beetle rising out of sleep.
Then we break camp and hike five miles
past the burial grounds
when Cate needs to stop and pierce
the blisters on her feet.

So I head off alone up a steep side creek
until the trail dead-ends in ice cliffs
smooth as teeth. A marmot’s
warning cries build within the valley as
everything slips toward one
great motion. Suddenly, the fir in front
of me snaps from the snow’s weight.
Dark fibers crack apart like a night
splintered-open with stars.

Tom Moore

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