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The Dream of February

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         I
In the moonlight,
in the heavy snow,
I was hunting along
the sunken road
and heard behind me
the quiet step
and smothered whimper
of something following . . .

Ah, tree of panic
I climbed
to escape the night,
as the furry body glided
beneath, lynx with   
steady gaze, and began
the slow ascent.

         II
And dark blue foxes
climbed beside me with
famished eyes that   
glowed in the shadows;

I stabbed with
a sharpened stick until
one lay across
the path with entrails
spilled, and
the others melted away.

The dead fox
moved again, his jaws
released the
sound of speech.

         III
Slowly I toiled
up the rotting stairs
to the cemetery
where my mother lay buried,

to find the open grave
with the coffin
tilted beside it,
and something spilled
from the bottom—

a whiteness that flowed
on the ground
and froze into mist that
enveloped the world.
“The Dream of February.” Copyright © 1993 by John Haines. Reprinted from The Owl in the Mask of the Dreamer with the permission of Graywolf Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota.
Source: The Owl in the Mask of the Dreamer: Collected Poems (Graywolf Press, 1993)
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The Dream of February

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