Grey sky, winter woods,
Snow sparkling despite the gloom,
And I am walking.
And in my walking,
I am come to a bog
Made rigid by cold.
Its ice is not pretty,
But clouded and dull,
And its surface cluttered
With dead, frozen leaves.
The trees at its edge
Are weighted and bent,
Branches trailing down
And caught in the ice.

At first, I'm enrapt
By what seems to be
A scene of pure beauty.
And then I catch sight
Of a furry, masked face
Hiding in the branches.
I steal up close,
Approaching softly,
For I don't wish to startle
The timid creature.

And then I am running,
Running away as fast as I can,
For the raccoon's face
Is sunken and frozen,
A decaying mask
Of wretched death,
And fleshless paws stretch
To grasp a branch
That was never
Quite within its reach.

I flee, For I have no power
To save it now,
Dead as it is,
Its lower half caught in the ice.

But mainly I flee,
For I can't bear
To see reflected
In its glittering eyes
The trapped and indecisive soul
That I have come to be.

C.P. Warner
16 February 1992

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