Rise, Pause, Fall

Isolated basin, hanging valley, hidden lake, logging road.
Construction site, national forest, snowy field, treeline, ridge line, cave system, swamp.
Backyard feeder, kitchen window, hen house, rabbit hutch, headlights.

Klamath, Marble Mountains, Holy Cross Wilderness, Dark Divide, Cascadia
Mount St. Helens, Bluff Creek, BC, Manitoba, Ontario, St. Edward’s Island,
Olympic Peninsula, Sierra Nevada, Northern Minnesota. Ohio.
Southern cousin, suburban outcast.

Lean-to of hand-snapped saplings, mud pit, lay area,
Earthbound nest of boughs and weeds
Tree-knock, Enoch.
Primeval Morse code of wood on wood.

Dermal ridges, mid-tarsal hinges, compression zone
Miles of tape measures spanning acres of plaster
Hair sample from screen door, tooth on foot trail, acrid pool of blackberry diarrhea.
Skookum body cast.

Shaky video. Blurry photo. Background object discovered months later.
Shattering implications in a single charcoal pixel.
Hissing cassettes of distant screams across black valleys’ 3 a.m.
911 recording, panicked Seattle homeowner. Matter-of-fact homeless San Antonio woman.
PG 13, P-G frame 352

New Peguis Backroad, Memorial Day, New York Baby in a Craw, Texas Woodpile Thermal,
Pennsylvania Trailcam, North Carolina Zagnut, Kentucky Pancake.
Patty. Matilda.

First the odor: Skunk. Methane. Horse. Wet dog. Rotting garbage. Dead animal.
Then, the dumbstruck forest. Crickets and thrushes hushed by what? Titanic EMF? Infrasound?
Now seismic footfalls. Snapping branches.

And then …

Field of vision filled. Reality rent. Something so us, and so not us.
Quartet of essential descriptors: large, hair-covered, upright … creature.
Size, impossible size. Seven and a half. Eight feet. Ten feet

Mountainous muscle-bound bulk. Breathtaking latent power. Terrifying and wondrous.
All shoulders and trapezia and arms. Impossibly wide with chest as deep.
Surface-to-volume ratio, cold adaptation, Bergmann’s rule.

Then the doubt, then the ruling out: No bear. No man. No hoax. No hallucination.

Rise, pause, fall. In-line trackway. Compliant gait.
Confirms on uniform color. Black, auburn, brown, albino.
Ostman’s pads.
Coned head, slope to back.
Gray-faced, heavy brow, red retinal eyeshine, hooded nose, long upper lip, canines,
Human expression. No, animal. No, human.

Nocturnal-crepescular. Bipedal-quadripedal.
Arboreal. Amphibious. Omnivorous. Opportunistic. Nomadic.
Physical as we are intellectual. Hominoid yin to our hominid yang. The trade-off now clear.

Evolutionary bridesmaid. Country cousin.
Brilliant beast or benighted man?
Literally benighted. Stinking. Howling in the dark. Nervous. Harassed and harassing.
Threatened and threatening. Raw venison.
Primitive language — whistles, grunting chatter.
Promethean snubbed.
Opposible thumb good only for hurling rocks at miners, hikers,
Choking fawns, stealing chickens, snapping limbs.
Dead end. Missing link. Pleistocene relic.
Fading snapshot of our younger selves.

Ever thus for us.
Genesis giants in the earth
Gilgamesh’s Enkidu
Grendel, bane of Half-Danes, sons of Cain
Woodwose to puzzled monks and Fear Liath to fog-bound Highlanders
Werewolf. Wookie.
Archetypal projection? or barely repressed racial memory?

Straining credulity:
No roadkill. No early century hunter’s trophy.
No decent wildlife photographer. Not one.
That the last to be discovered could be most spectacular.
That we have named four hundred thousand beetles,
Yet somehow overlooked this, which we cannot look over.

But thirty thousand reports. Two hundred years. Forty-nine states.
First Nations traditions —
Each and all a hoax or mistake? Every one?
Dashcam video. Law enforcement. Air traffic controller.
Respected psychologist imperiling career.

Sleepless timber executives, visions of death by conservation.
Lumberjack gag order.
False recantations coerced by sinister threat.
Manufactured hoaxes to muddy water.
Grinning news anchor mockery: “And finally tonight…”
Government X file. Scientific pariah. Professional suicide.
Tabloid infection, promise of fortune, dueling lawsuits, non-disclosure agreements, film rights,
Vegas promoters, website entrepreneurs, sideshow barkers.

Patterson, Gimlin, Freeman, Erickson, Slick, Moneymaker
Heuvelmans, Krantz, Bindernagel, Meldrum, Hadj-Chikh
Byrne, Williams, Green, Pyle

Type specimen or DNA?
Tranquilize or shoot to kill?
Poaching? Manslaughter? or Murder?
Habituation. Investigation. Dismissive nation.
DNA sequencing. Peer review. Press conference.
Gigantopithecus canadensis.

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