Audio: Read by the author.

I was born to watch
the beavers’ chewing
flood the pond.
Fated to bear witness
to such confident
accretion, my life was bitten down

into a point
that pointed toward
the dome, its whole shorn forest
brought to thatch,
incredibly, by teeth.
There is a seal

that spends each morning
blunting its incisors
on the ice—
rasping open breathing holes
that close if not
routinely shaven back—

until one day its teeth,
now dull and domed,
stop breaking through,
the animal beating
its soft enamel
on the ceiling

as it drowns. There can be no
proceeding from.
There is only gnawing
through the visible,
wearing down
the center between living

and its damages, until
the center’s broken door
stops granting us admission
to our lives.
The beavers graft another
layer on the dam.

They slap their tails
so loud a sound
like falling dice
skitters the smooth,
unfrozen surface of the pond.
Or what had been the pond

before it overflowed
its banks and drowned
the meadow and the campsite
and the fire pit we used
to turn our spits over,
the tusky wooden tapers

of our spits. I was born
in time to see it swamp,
my life a parallel, accumulative
loss of definition.
If I am still enough, the beavers
will reveal their door,

the jamb of which they clot
into a lodge before my eyes,
the underwater hatch
through which their chambered
penetralia take shape.
My ways, my mammal acumen,

are forgeries of theirs—
to have been underwater
all that time, salient
to the outer world
only as a dome,
before tearing through the doorway

of that world,
loud and blue
and sure my life was mine.