Light changed its mind about us. Wind
tortured trees into giving up branches.
Roots knotted nets through the dark
but couldn't keep hemlocks from pitching to ground.
After the rain, Chinook and coho
followed branchwater scent to find here,
finned darkness, waiting for home
to claim them. I thought I saw stars through the alders.
Planks of wall and floor don't care that I'm scared
of the dark. This is just the next of their lives.
Outside, their kin lean in to see
what their own next selves might be, after tree:
table or chair, shelves holding books. Firewood, paper, kindling
or matchsticks, betraying their brethren. Any one of us
might turn to ash, one day or the next. Salmon
wait in the current; silver spasm of milt over roe
and then they will die. When daylight finds us again I'll look up
from the splayed-open book with its poem
titled "Self-Portrait in a Borrowed Cabin,"
to see the doe, midstream, tiptoeing upriver
on her sharp hooves.