In the Mountains with Cousins at Five
by Walt McDonald

    Rising in robes,
    our mothers shuffled to the porch
    with hot chocolate to watch us.
    Steam rose to their lips when they sipped.

    Like cubs with mother bears, we tiptoed
    and pounced, chased shadows past shrubs
    and berry vines. Whatever spoor we could find,
    we crouched for, wishing for growls

    in the forest, coyotes, cougars or bears.
    Bolstered by sunlight, we bragged
    what we'd do to wolves, miles from town.
    Nights, after hiking to boulders,

    we sat with our parents in moonlight,
    swinging our legs off the deck
    over darkness under the house. We heard
    ghost stories of trappers who froze,

    bears that ate babies. No one shoved back
    by his parents, but we all sneaked peeks
    below our legs, the dirt six feet below us
    dark, as far away as dawn.

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