The double call of the owls in the hardwoods
Had become threads in a dream that made no sense.
As a boy he had confused the deep throb of the towboat diesels pushing coal upriver,
A sound that could only be heard in the dead of night, with his own heartbeat.
When the tow went round the upriver bend and faded,
He awoke with a start fearing that without the deep vibration he would die.
The soft coo of the mourning doves finally woke him.
The mossy boulders where he coiled had held the sun’s warmth well into the night
Rattlesnakes and copperheads also liked the warm fissures
But he never minded sharing..he’d had worse in his bed.
The buttery glow of the pallid morning sun
Did little to dilute the haze shrouding the ridge.
He had not planned on sleeping up there
But the long day-spooked by the moon-had abruptly fled
Leaving him unsure of the path.
It was hard to imagine, so many years later
That he had touched him just the once.
Had he meant, just the once, in that one night,
Or more than one time within that night.
Or just one time every night of many?
His explanations were never made clear.
Even a child knew he was full of shit.
The overlook revealed buzzards below;
Pepper specks riding the updrafts from the valley floor.
She knew the whole time
Which was probably why she had never touched him
Which would have been his clear preference.
But all is forgiven
Or is it the other way around?
It would make all the difference.
She was open to him later,
But he never lay a hand on her
Until much later when she pleaded that he wouldn’t.
Now he heard them often
Treading the squeaky floorboards at night
As he shuddered in his bag
Behind a locked door
That wouldn’t keep them out,
If they wanted to come in.
But all is forgotten