Bob Hicok

Catch and release

They keep showing up -- the image of a man
sometimes missing his left arm, sometimes his right
when he waves from across the valley --
followed by a gate that walks away and frees
a few horses to be inspiring again --
I keep trying to fit the images into poems
that don't want them -- like a board
I should take back to the saw and shave to size
with the whirling blade -- so this is their life
free and clear of my will -- my mind
released from my mind telling my mind
what it is -- I'm reminded of the years
I tried hard to see a brown bear --
it never worked -- but when I gave up trying,
I still didn't see a bear, but the bear
I didn't see was a pileated woodpecker
on a low branch of a lightning-struck maple
above the West Fork of the Roanoke River --
a cow licking the udder of a cow
licking the udder of another cow -- you
appearing as old as every wrong choice
when I turned to you in the car yesterday --
but when I looked away, afraid of your ebbing
and then back, you seemed as young as the thought
we might roll down any of the hills around us,
stand up dizzy and screaming to do it again --
the whole thing -- from start to finish --
my best anchors have no chains -- as if
it's only the falling through that holds

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