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Grant Clauser

Baptism Creek

I’ve camped in these woods

for years and never seen a bobcat,

though the forest service says they’re here.

Today I hike down Well’s Hill, cross

Baptism Creek where it murmurs up

from an old wound in the Earth

then dodges boulders and beech trees

to enter Trespass Pond, a water named

for mystery as much as Baptism.

In November every sound becomes the crunch

of leaves, the rising and falling static

of chipmunks stockpiling their dens.

Across the country, families have been hiding

from each other for months. Counting off

the safe days since we breathed without

fear. We know it’s out there, another virus

that waits for us to drop our guard,

our hunger for others' touch sometimes

unbearable. Yesterday rain kept me

in the cabin. Today sun but cold

follows me down Baptism Creek.

I don’t need to see a bobcat to believe

one is out there in this forest.

Its feet padded for stealth. Its nose

and ears tuned to warn when I’m coming.

Grant Clauser_lowres_photoby Alex Cope - Grant Clauser.png



Grant Clauser's sixth book, Temporary Shelters, is forthcoming from Cornerstone Press. His poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Greensboro Review, Kenyon Review, and other journals. He lives in Pennsylvania where he works as an editor and teaches poetry at Rosemont College.

Bear Review


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