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Grouse

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This water flows dark red
            from alder tannin:
boot-stain river

                        between white rocks.
            An ouzel, flannel-feathered,
sips the current up.

                        Mossgatherers
            spread their patches
across a dry, flat turnaround.

                        They seem embarrassed,
            want to shelter in the dark.
A coyote running in broad day;

                        stumps ruffling
            with sulphur polypores
woodsy to the tongue,

                        woody to teeth. Early
            yellow leaves paste river to its bed;
blackberries drop, the last,

                        many out of taste
            and strictly smudge.
Puddles loop in the road:

                        Bottomland—
            the foolhen
waits there for

                        the fool gun,
            gray throat-down free in a burst,
the pose, the afterslump.

                        Carcass beside spirit.
            O come to my hand, unkillable;
whatever continues, continue to approach.

Source: Poetry (March 2006)

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This poem originally appeared in the March 2006 issue of Poetry magazine

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Grouse

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