​I sat in the corner
beside a candle
burning low.
The dark outside,
I feared,
somehow made darker
by the brightness
within the small
flame’s sphere.

The door flung wide
to hear the rain
pelting the ground,
and splashing
in puddles.
I found it soothing
to welcome the night,
but tonight I was
befuddled.

Normally,
the hours tranquil
as the day reposed
and held its breath,
this night
my self imposed
sequestration
smelled and felt
like death.

I had not ventured out
for many moons
to hunt the Beast
that culled the herd,
but rocked in my corner
night after night
listening to the song
of the invisible night bird.

Perhaps the de facto offering
had finally been exhausted.
I did not know, for in the day
I had not gone out to see.
But I suspected,
in woods devoid of prey,
this night
the Beast had come for me.

It padded
across my threshold
without so much as a sound.
All I could see
were slavering jaws,
and amber eye shine,
as it lowered its head
and sniffed around.

It reeked
of musk and brimstone.
A low growl rumbled
from deep in the Beast’s chest.
My rocker frozen on my tip toes
I held perfectly still,
at least I did my best.

In the end I admitted,
albeit to myself,
I was to blame
for failing to hunt.
I was remorseful
knowing others would
suffer,
but tonight,
for my failure to act,
it was I who bore
the brunt.

M. Zane McClellan

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