Old Woman Nature

Old Woman Nature
naturally has a bag of bones
                tucked away somewhere.
                a whole room full of bones!

A scattering of hair and cartilage
               bits in the woods.

A fox scat with hair and a tooth in it.
               a shellmound
                      a bone flake in a streambank.

A purring cat, crunching
               the mouse head first,
                       eating on down toward the tail--
The sweet old woman
               calmly gathering firewood in the
               moon . . .

Don't be shocked,
She's heating you some soup.
                            VII, '81, Seeing Ichikawa Ennosuke in
                      "Kurozuka"—"Demoness"— at the Kabuki-za
                                                       in Tokyo

Gary Snyder, "Old Woman Nature" from Axe Handles. Copyright © 1983 by Gary Snyder.  Reprinted by permission of Counterpoint Press.
Source: Axe Handles (North Point Press, 1983)
More Poems by Gary Snyder