As your breath hangs in clouds

over snowsqueak and twigsnap

lynx move as melting

their tufting in flows


leaving time lost in 


hearts skipped 

as if stones


and gathered, you follow

wide-whiskered, updrawn

chasing furred waters

past hemlock and bone


to liquid lines pausing

pointed and calm

where pooled gazes meet

across moonshadowed snow


and you are seen 

without censure

but neither welcomed

nor shown


that you are other 

than current

or fellow seed, here



while in waves 

they roll on 

and you turn towards 



not as lynx light

nor starlight

but as the eyeshine 

of your own.


This poem is a love story… not a romantic one, but a tale of love nonetheless.

It begins with five lynx crossing the road in front of our truck. We are lucky to spot these wild cats from time to time, but we rarely get to see so many at once, or at such close range. After watching them lope and leap into the woods and out of sight, we sat stunned and giddy for several moments before continuing down the road. Over a week has passed since that crossing, and I find myself wondering where the lynx might be, what they are hunting, if they remain a group of five. They are still here, moving like shadows across my mind.

I love seeing lynx. Every time I do, a part of me jumps up and follows them through the trees, moving with a lynxy grace and precision I have never known in this body. In my imagination, we can smell hare and vole, hear the spruce grouse beneath the snow, taste the river air from the ridge. It feels like falling in love, but more paced, less tenuous. I would stay here, among them, if I could.

But then comes a moment when a lynx turns to meet my eyes, and I am lost. Something in that clear, unaffected (wild) gaze shakes me down, and I know myself again as human, not lynx. For a moment, this feels disorienting and wrong, even though I know there is nothing wrong with being human… unless I believe that to be so. Sometimes, I do.

And that feels terrible. Is it possible to be human without knowing heartbreak? It seems to me that even a newborn cries as if it has known one. Whether we would call it that or not, we each hold a place inside us that knows how to separate itself from love.

But as with most love stories, it doesn’t have to end there. With each break comes the chance to learn a little more about love, and about being human. For me, a lynxy gaze reflects my own humanness as both different and — perhaps in its essentials — no different than that of a wild cat. In each of us runs a common living current. And when I can glimpse that flashing force we share, I remember that nothing truly separates us… not even my imagination.

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