Night Messenger

From deep in the mountain’s dark,
I heard through the open window
a massive huff and shuffle; heart pounding,
I thought a bear nearby.

But the sounds that came were new—
a long and high-pitched shriek,
then a row of piglike grunts.

Like a vast, primeval bird, the creature
keened anew its wail and grunts, wail and grunts—
huge and single in its need.

When it finally lumbered off, I glimpsed
in moonlight the outline of antlers: bull elk!
His bugling cry sent mystery and musk
through the chill mountain air.


First appeared in Oklahoma Review