But even to think the word “moose”
Queers the pitch,
As when you say,
Today I’ll write a poem,
And your mind becomes
A polar bear in a snowstorm
Holding his paw over his nose,
Or a Zen exercise:
Do not think about forty laughing parrots.

I saw one the other day
When I wasn’t thinking of them at all,
A cow, grazing in the boggy water
Just north of Granville.
She paid no mind to me whatsoever,
Save to look up once and let loose a waterfall
Of piss, as if to say,
There’s your epiphany for you,
So much for your Holy Grail.
Are you satisfied?
And go back to grazing on the weeds,
A loud inelegant chomp
Like nothing elusive or invisible.

She’s not the one, then, I decide,
Not the stand-in for the white goddess;
It will have to be a male
With his absurd and glorious rack—
Without it, after all, they’re only a quotidian
Cross of horse and steer—
But, as Henry the Eighth would insist,
The getting of him is only in part up to me
So I’ll forget about him for a while
(But wait, watchful, for a movement in the swamp)

And even as I say this
I recall the elder’s story
Of searching all day on the mountain
For the wreck of an old plane, already stripped
Of all that made it noteworthy,
And of missing, in those long tense hours of seeking,
The speech of water, talus, pine, white-throated sparrow.

Roberta Harold MA ‘01 is the author of historical mysteries Heron Island and Murdered Sleep. She is now working on a novel about a Civil War widow in Belle Epoque Paris.