My Mother’s Dream

It shook her out of a sound sleep, she says,
it seemed so real: the catamount
with all four feet dug into her flesh
riding her back like a demon in an old folktale.

Was it the lion’s voice or her own
she heard as she tried to turn
& couldn’t, couldn’t look,
doubled under that unearthly weight?

One clear autumn morning a week later
she wakes to the roar of a lumberman’s bulldozer
& remembers her dream. The man looking
down from his nest of gearshifts

must wonder at this gray-haired woman
who faces him from the other side
of the blade with fists
half-clenched. He reaches for the switch

& it shudders into silence. Don’t worry,
, he says, eyes watering from the tobacco juice
he swallowed so as not to spit.
We’ll cut well above your line.

This Cat is yellow & its teeth and claws are steel.
It lays the wooded spine of the mountain bare.
My mother runs to the far field
to flee the chainsaw’s scream.


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