Four Otters

Four otters forage together
the length of Lily Pond, spines pouring under
then heads-up, jaws shearing and crushing
frogs, minnows, pollywogs, crayfish,

diving again.
They call to each other
as I watch them out of sight in a blur of flowers.
I think of them crossing the lane

for the next pond, the neighbour’s land,
past “Live Bait” signs and “Standing Timber Wanted”
— but that’s too far: I’ve imagined them
into a zone of harm where next winter

they’ll drown under the ice in beaver traps.
Look, here they come back.
They make two more passes.
Nebulas of algae breathe for us.

~ John Donlan

A native of Baysville, in Ontario’s Muskoka region, John Donlan is a poetry editor with Brick Books. He spends half the year as a reference librarian at the Vancouver Public Library, and the other half writing poetry near Godfrey, Ontario. His collections of poetry are Domestic Economy (Brick Books, 1990, reprinted 1997), Baysville (House of Anansi Press, 1993), Green Man (Ronsdale Press, 1999), and Spirit Engine, (Brick Books, 2008.) He is also the author of A Guide to Research @ Your Library (Ontario Library Association/Vancouver Public Library, 2002).

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