First Relations by Pamela Alexander
Part of the darkness lived. Furred or scaled
according to its mood, it crawled or bounded, snorted
or drooled, it swam or ripped bark from the trees,
and it was powerful because it could do all these things at once
and because it could show itself or transmogrify
into boulder, log, hummock of grass. We gave it our fear
freely and bountifully so it would not take more of us;
we made words and gave it a name w never spoke.
Still it pressed so close we tasted its breath, felt our bones
seized. And so we slept with fire, which we also feared.
Children rose up, blood-hot, hungry. We were many.
Some of us predicted its shapes from the clouds, some
studied its scents, some imitated its calls and silences;
and we followed it everywhere, darkness in our hands.