Poetry: Just Us

Just Us 

by Rick Rayburn

Scent of pitch and decaying wet leaves 

over coarse volcanic sands 

above the black lake. 

 

My wife’s shoulder rises with each breath,


as dawn’s stars dim above sugar pines, heavy 

with pulling pendulous cones. 

 

Damp splits night and day, 

I lie, still, when 

startled by unfamiliar breaths. 

 

Shadowy figure hovers over me, 

taller than manzanita. 

Bear? Cougar? 

 

Mule deer, a doe,


slim, erect ears flicker. 

Her indifferent face fixes on me. 

 

White-tipped tail sways,


she tears grass from the earth, 

resumes the silent stare. 

 

I search her wide eyes

for welcome at her lake. I whisper, 

It’s just us. 

 

I am in her solitary eyes.


Too intimate? She spins, 

bounds into the forest. 

 

My wife wakes,


laying her hand on my cheek. 

White patch wraps Lassen’s peak.