Hibernation

Chirrup here to there, blanketing night. Song with a single cadence. No melody, yet definite rhythm. Too complex to string on bars, but oh, how we try. Drill the lids. Cap the jars. Light is music captured, or as close as we can get. This summer will last longer than we ever imagined and then we will wake to pelt and boot, forgetting for a moment the ache when sun shined on and refused to wane even as something brighter receded to a background score of tymbal trilling out le fin.

Soon it will be geese, a whole different note repeating against shrinking dusk. Do you know already what I know? Frost has already settled. One sweet harvest, the deep green lift and then, sleep. Inward curl and fallen leaf.

I learned how to rest long before this equinox. Pack off that rangy, furred beast, fat and claw and stink from the prowl. Show her the way. Lay her low under moth and bat, folded wing, damp. She can fall into her uneasy descent, grunting as she settles into a comma marked up on the cave floor. Breath slowing until almost none at all. Dimensional petroglyph, an ancient story. Her hide and the skin of rock marked into one. She’ll appear dead. She may not even respond if you hiss in her ear. Poke her with a stick. Call and call all the names you think might belong to her.

Down inside stone, she won’t remember her own, if she ever had such a thing at all.

Maybe you will be there when ice thins on the morning blade, one drip then another feeding the softening soil. Light will crack the fissure one sliver at a time, heating the blackened place just enough to warm her. Make her itch. Remind her of her hunger.

For this return you can stay or not. Her cardiac thud, once a molten surge, softened to a thrum. Faint. Silent? If you didn’t feel it, you may have forgotten to try. No one ever falls away completely. Parting is illusion. Not she from flesh, not she from the constellation where she has pressed her forever form upon sky. Not she from you.

The stirring will come. It is not Lazarus. Neither miracle nor magic. Maybe not even worth the wait. The pause and rise are mere season and the arrival of an inevitable next.

Dumb beast. Just as the next generation of cicadas hatch below and make their way up to song and longing, she’ll trundle off. Not even a hash mark at the mouth when she passes. Time may not have. Maybe she was never there at all.

Except for a hush. A smell. Except for an impression in the gathered dust.
 

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