Next Time at Beaver Pond
By Tim Poland

I’ll collect some of the teeth-scored chips the
...beavers leave scattered at the base of the spiked
stumps and cup them in my hand and carry them
... home to you to show you the track of bone in
the wood and tell you that this is what I’ve been
... trying to say all along, that I could never hope
for more than this—to know that my teeth are
... always growing and have to be used or they’ll
curve back into my flesh and pierce my tongue,
... to be possessed by the need to bite methodically
into the sinewy heart of hardwood and chew this
... tree into a purpose other than originally intended,
to glide through the stilled waters of my own
... construction, sleek as wax, one stroke ahead of
the name that will make me vanish, the name that
... finds my waddling bulk so easily on the mammal
land, to enter my house from beneath the surface
... of the water and climb into the dry, snug lodge
with the kits and feel no need for windows, to
... recall the sting of being forced into these lungs
when fins had once seemed more apt, to slap the
... water with my tail only to warn of danger, like an
exclamation point that, for once, imparts meaning,
... to feel the ache of the dam in my teeth and know
it will not abate until the last branch and the last
... daub of mud have been hauled and tamped into
place, to know in my aching teeth and leathery tail
... how to let just enough water sluice through the dam
to unfurl this creek into a pond calm enough, still
... enough, to slow my heartbeat as I float in it, to
munch green willow bark and wait patiently while
... all the rivers in the world flow over my fur.