The drum that beats within me is primitive as stone,
the song of one who fears not death nor years alone,
who hears the amber hoofs beat within the willowed glade,
and tracks the sorrowed unicorn beneath the laurel’s shade.
The drum that beats within me outlasts all sense of time
and limbers to no earthly tune, no transitory rime.
The politic is not its stead, nor earning, nor the wise;
it abides not reason, nor in dimension lies.
In the lodgepole canyons, before the day’s alive
you hear it in the flicker, the creek stone, and the hive,
you know it in the winter wind that licks about the boughs
and sifts the gifts of years and bones the forest floor allows.
The drum that beats within me is steady as the Bear
who sleepless guards the whirling skies around his northern lair;
although I cannot see him in the glitter of the day
I know that he is visible once light is swept away.
As when the buck has bounded from his needled mountain bed,
his footfalls echo through the pines long after he has fled,
so does the drum beat after us, although we travel past
the touch of every star and space, the wish a wish might last.
First published in Montana Poetry Journal