It was winter, and snowdrifts

covered the frozen fens.

Dogs, harnesses, gangline, sled.

In a rush of steaming yips and howls 

you pulled the hook, and 

ran free.  

The dogs quieted, tuglines taut.

The sled creaked and hummed over the trail. 

Gripping the handlebar, 

you shuffled your feet, 

dancing on the rails behind them.


Later, a clearing, and a moose carcass, 

its stripped thorax opened,

a bowl to the sky, 

the stained snow packed by rims of ravens 

and wolf tracks. 

The dogs sped up, turned heads

and veered, noses 

working the air.

“On by!” you yelled, voice edged

with false confidence.

You knew the risk

and they listened, 

bemused, but agreeable,

turning back onto the trail.


Long after the snows melted,

you circled another thorax.

Not a carcass, but a daughter,

born a season too soon.

You watched, not certain 

you could handle her

or yourself. 

Her tiny form 

breathed with effort,

her body 

vibrated in your hands. 

“On by” became your mantra 

on that long, bony trail.

You hid behind it, even as she grew.

You let go of the sled.

You avoided the dance.


There’s no need to dwell on 

what’s been missed,

no need to question past decisions.

Sometimes, avoiding risk is the right thing to do.

Sometimes, it is not,

like now. 


Now is your time to


to re-become.

Step off this well-worn trail.

Follow your nose, free up your feet.


You are not the handler of her, your child.

You are not the flagging moose, either. 

You are one of us,

you offer much more than a thorax.

Listen for our padded feet 

landing, pressing, lifting as we 

run in shared love 

of the run.

Listen for our call, and answer it 

your way.

We will hear you,

for you are

the tender handler 

of this run.

Categories: Uncategorized


  1. Dear Tricia, I read this to myself last night and was stunned. I just read it aloud to Anna, who is obsessed with huskies and determined to become an Alaskan musher one day. And now I can appreciate some of the sounds you created. I really love the “Listen for our padded feet…” part. Nice to think of ourselves as tender handlers. Love you.


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