We know it has been used before:
deepest center, old bones,
the remains of fire.
A narrow mouth, dirt floor packed and smoothed.
Rushlights along one wall.
Paint from mud and sap and stone.
All of us know the dances. Most of us
remember the words.
We wait for the cold, the darkest night.
They haven’t found us: we’ve learned to be that quiet,
slipping between the winter trees,
whisking our tracks away.
It’s our oldest place, hidden
in the woods where they never go
for fear of the bears
who prowl the edges in the dark--
clawmarks pressed deep in the wet ground,
their long memories keeping us safe.