Full moon at my back
casting a shadow of my
slightly skewed gait
as I move alone along the gravel path.
Leaves all gone to their rest
no longer muffle the sounds of
cars a mile away and farther,
drivers on their evening commutes.
A scream in the woods
down the trail
by the creek.
My mind hears a migrating bird
locked in the freezing creek.
A scream and I call into the woods
Hello? Is anybody there?
and another scream
What is the sound of a treed bear cub?
an injured moose?
A scream, piercing as a damsel’s terror
in a haunted house maze,
and I sweep along the trailside
with my headlamp and see nothing.
The moon lights the tops of the trees,
shadows thrown downstream.
A shape emerges in a treetop
there along the river,
and a scream, as I cast my light high
catch a pair of eyes reflecting
looking around me,
looking at me.
An owl, over a foot tall
holding its territory from its perch
more screams cry behind me
as I walk away from the water
the darkness, the owl,
protecting this trail and this creek
from intruders in this city forest.