Sandra: At The Beaver Trap

By Michael S. Harper

Nose only above water;
an hour in the ice melt;
paw in a beaver trap,
northern leaping through—
the outlet sieving, setter-
retriever staked to her trip,
The stake of her young
life run to nose level.

Farmers adjacent to the lake
call ’round for the owner;
at least they call around,
and a man in a pickup
pulls her out, her crushed
paw limp in the blazing sun.

Shivering on our pantry floor,
wrapped in a snowsuit,
I see her dam the clamped paw
staked to the sleeve,
licking for breaks,
a light trickle of blood
spilling from a torn nail.

Next spring she will tramp
down our wire,
stamp on six goslings,
swim for teal,
run down blackbirds,
drag deer bones in our garden.

She limps on the compost pile,
shakes at the vet,
fishes under makeshift docks,
ferrets out mink,
frog, green snake,
any animal scrimmage without stakes:
listen to her spayed name—
warned, thwarted, disregarded, beautiful—
last of her line.

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