Glimpses of Caribou

It’s their placid manner
that surprises us
when at the edge
of our vision we glimpse them,
ambling aimlessly
over the paths of the choices we make,
rooting in hummocks of sedge.
And there’s something we love
in that way they have
of travelling for travel’s sake.
Somehow it comforts us
to look up from the cusp
of an irksome decision,
a fork in the road, and see them –
the shape of an antler,
the gleam of a coat.
Which way do we go?
we say to the baffled caribou
who from a long way off
look back at us, and then
are gone – into a landscape
glistening with lakes;
on expandable feet
on hard-packed snow:
a clicking of caribou
tendons and hooves
cutting a trail in the rock
which future caribou,
chancing on it,
may choose to follow, or not.

from In Defence of Adultery (Bloodaxe, 2003), © Julia Copus 2003, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

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