Not alone

(after Alexander Solzhenitsyn)

B.C. camping, two of us, one tent,
lake nestled below nippled peaks,
we watch dusk-sun
play out across water rippled

by fleeing geese. They zigzag upward
in frenzied rush to join
three half-formed V's
cutting through faded light.

We scan horizon to horizon,
see geese dot the entire sky --
nine rise in the east,
five lift off west,

eight more flap out of mist,
each faint cry echoing fear
they won't link up,
but will fly solitary into night.

On impulse, you stir our fire,
send up sparks, smoke, hope,
spiraling to guide their ragged lines.
I find a log in growing dark,

toss it on embers but fail to notice
the wood is alive
with ants. Desperate, they rush out,
scurry along the top.

We quickly roll the log on its side
so most can drop unburned
onto cool sand. Safe,
they turn, circle, circle

then climb back to their home.
They dance farewell brightly --
tiny orange torches -- together,
not alone.

Timothy Pilgrim