The Creaking Ice

The creaking ice beckoned,

wanting to show how,

overnight,

it had warped itself

into a cat-tail rimmed bowl.

The beavers dredged

a splay-footed trail

resolved to repair

the responsible breach.

Industry thwarted,

no materials for repairs,

they ate,

worrying the bark

from chiseled saplings

before retreating to their ice-locked lodge.

One of the dogs

mouthing a gnawed stick

breaks through a dark patch.

She struggles,

calibrating claws’

slip and grab,

and lurches,

lurches,

and finally lurches free,

shakes and runs

to rejoin the others.

From behind an icebound rock

and blood-red barberry,

a partridge startles and whirs

an accelerating arc

into a waiting wire-mesh fence.

An explosion of feathers,

she drops to the ice,

eyes closing,

gulping air

past an un-hinged tongue,

one wing askew.

Her mate, launching south,

and without looking back,

flies.

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