methow grist 2011-2014 archive


Cougar Visit

photo of cougar up in tree

David Asia writes: On the morning of February 6th, we were visited by a female cougar. We called the State Game Department, and Cal Treser and Jason Day responded. Dave Rodriguez from the Sheriff’s Department showed up to help, and Steve Reynaud, who volunteers on a cougar tracking initiative here in the valley, also came.

These guys did an impressive job. Their work with the cougar was professional, respectful, and compassionate. The cougar was collared and released the next day. State cougar specialist and biologist Rich Beausoleil, with his Korellian Bear Dog, Cash, assisted with this release.

My poem absolutely does not reflect the quality of their effort and work. Often, inspiration takes us to places beyond our specific experience. We can only hang on as best we can.

Paved With Good Intentions

It’s not easy for us,
Living as close
To the wild like we do.
Our history has left our hearts
Cold and hungry,
Beating too irregularly,
Our hands too restless,
And our minds
Too easily drawn to
The comfort of delusions.
In the real world,
We are prone to piracy,
Displacing creatures
Far more graceful,
Far more thoughtful
Than ourselves.
And in spite of our nightmares,
To them,
We are the monsters.
They watch us,
Catch our scent
On the faintest of breezes,
Listen to us blunder
Around the barnyard,
Computing the risks
Of our everyday alchemy
Long before
We have paid them any mind.
When we do encounter one of them,
Crouched and watchful
In the bitterbrush
On the brown hillsides above the house,
Our momentary fright
Paralyzes us
Until we remember
What we are supposed to do.
Then again,
One of them
May encounter us,
As winter wanes
And the snow begins to rot
And the hunt has gotten harder.
And startled by the dog,
She climbs the pine by the shed,
Stretches out,
Anchored by her long tail,
And watches the serious men below
Deploy the makeshift machinery
Of catch and release.
I wonder what she thinks
In those last moments,
Before the sedative
Finally brings her down.

Once it’s over,
It is days before I can sleep.
I lie awake,
Trying to understand my sadness,
This foolish, childlike grief
I feel
For the possibility that
This lean time
May be her last,
That tomorrow morning,  
We will wake,
And over our coffee,
Realize that she hasn’t moved,
That the reassuring beacon
We use to track her
Now tells us
Only that her life has ended.
And in a year or so,
Some hiker
Will find her empty collar
And send an email to Olympia,
Announcing finally that,
However gently
We sought to hold
Her fragile, wild life in our hands,
We make promises
We cannot keep.
It is just who we are.



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