child’s drawing on birch-bark, ca. 1260
I, beast, carry the blind moon on my back,
copper coin with the sheen worn off
and the face hammered out of it.
I go by the old rutted roads.
A boy dreamed me, four backward feet
and a curly tail, when he wasn’t dreaming battles,
himself victorious against all enemies.
But I outlived him.
I, beast, enter the stories you remember
as if they were inns by the side of the road,
the sheets turned down for me.
At times I walk upright in a mask and coat.
Now the boy is gone; the blood moon weighs
heavy, its bag worn and fraying at the seams.
I am afraid it will slip back into its place
above the trees, while I must keep to my road.
First published in North American Review and then in Travel Notes from the