The Shelter


It is enough

To smell, to crumble the dark earth.


Edward Thomas, from “Today I Think”




Today clouds dim the forest.

I dreamt of you

slipping into the pond at night—

our nights, when Earth would quietly revolve

untouched by frightful news.

And now this rush of ink!

You draw me into your absence.

In my dream you moved away from me,

vulnerable like the rhythms of rain.



A cold spell—the creek froze overnight.

You are like the water

that flows beneath brittle ice,

and in its murmur I lie awake

until, at daybreak, I brush past the reeds

to the willows, gathering what will lean

and bend. Over my field, a mist settles—

I try in vain to unfasten it.

Still no word from you.



My door faces east, and I linger there,

listening for tributes to love

among the dormancies.

The ground bears down heavily.

In the fallow light, I ask the trees

for a sign—am I alive for you?

Like a summit, a dome shelters

many spheres—I move among them

when the golden grass lies buried in snow.



Short-lived, the days bring gray-scales,

a tunneling under. Barred from your touch,

I subsist on the canon of tree and sky.

A blue light filters in.

We climbed a mountain once—

haggard trees, a rock-torn plateau—and no fear.

The grave is simple, you said,

a ground’s dwelling, thatched by skin and fur. 

My thoughts fray out in a jagged wind.



Tonight alone and at peace with the hills,

the tattered trees, our growing distance.

My ground is a fabric, my land the black ice.

(The ache of missing is pleasing though—

our shapes, containing each other,

still offer a kind of solace.)

I brought in the cold air, and now,

as I strip off my clothes by the fire,

I shiver. It's a beginning. 



A bright haze. I follow the creek

where ice thins and fractures. My field emerges

in patches of soil. Among these mercurials,

I work on measure, counterpoints.

It’s true, I did not try to hold you back,

to change your resolve, your bold designs.

Your hands, I thought, were too frail for a warrior.

But now—if only you could hear

the brook’s transparencies.



Song birds, appetites, quick reversals!

I write cryptic notes to myself, red arrows

for “you are here.” Cumulus heaps

to thunderheads, pouring out into sky.

Patiently, the shelter listens

to my secret soliloquies.

The leaves I have gathered for you

I give to the arc of sun, the larger blue.

In the air, rhubarb and camphor.



Each day the sun slides further

into my horizon, then lies mirror-ready,

cradled by hills. I am wearing

the shelter like a diaphanous dress.

The stream poses darker riddles

—where to go—but already I am moving,

pulled along by melt water

and flight routes. It is enough

to smell the air, warm as pine pitch.


Leonore Hildebrandt has published poems in Cafe Review, Cimarron Review, Denver Quarterly, Drunken Boat, Spoon River Poetry Review, and Quercus Review, among other journals. Her translations of Rilke’s Elegies have appeared in Cerise Press. She is the author of the letterpress chapbook, The Work at Hand (Flat Bay Press), and a full-length collection, The Next Unknown (Pecan Grove Press). Winner of the 2013 Gemini Poetry Contest, she received fellowships from the Elizabeth George Foundation, the Maine Community Foundation, and the Maine Arts Commission. A native of Germany, Leonore lives “off the grid” in easternmost Maine and teaches writing at the University of Maine. She serves as an editor for the Beloit Poetry Journal.


Heidi Daub has exhibited her paintings widely throughout New England. A graduate of Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, MA, she combines in her work representational and abstract elements in innovative ways. Her work is housed internationally in both private and corporate collections. She is represented in Maine through Gleason Fine Art and Cynthia Winings Gallery, and abroad through KPK Gallery, London. In 2008 she compiled Eve of a New Round, a collection of original paintings and poems, and in 1999 she curated and participated in “Inner Landscapes, Artists and Poets from Maine,” a show featuring Maine women artists at the Montserrat College of Art. Painter, poet, and curator, Heidi lives and maintains a studio in Blue Hill, Maine.