last winter’s quest

by Thom Kortkamp

once, we children
set out     together on the golden road
across big prairie…

among the stalks of goldenrod
& queen anne’s lace,
hands rose:     pale  & insipid,
menacing our flanks

swiftly along to the mother
tree haven      on thin soil
          branches caressing
being consumed
by buttery         toadstools

we climbed to breathe…
                       a potion of
beard hair and fresh blood
nursed the       wounded

she provides the finest relief,
but never from the scathing wind.
so provoked     we came down

in the maple grove, home-work called:
the frame
was brittle       silver poles
frapped with hemp &
                 slick orange twine

nearby,            growling nihilists
with GIGANTIC scissors
                      had severed
piles of young       cedar
perfect for to thatch our fort.

bare hands         heaving
to burst the gin-flavoured tangle
the shelter         emerging
                        a nook for
stashing treasure

but something treasured was lost…
the despair was instantaneous.
                        on hands and knees
skimming the duff
scanning through tears
for a precious ring of bone

we had faith, but no hope.
& just then,       the hound
                        loped in
from a chase…
he has a head for such things

so the dreadful condition was spoken.
he panted,
ostensibly motionless:
                        a lazy eye
happened to glance over his spine…

there it lay!
                        on the ground
atop countless lifetimes of
shadows           seldom considered:

a bleached but glowing circle,
& ready to go home.

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