Back 40: Herds, Yellowstone


We saw the bighorn sheep

within a mile of the gate,

the black bear not long after.

And when we crossed the fabled river

into the corner of the map

we were soon among the herds.

 

Pronghorn on the hillsides.

Bison thick as thought

in that valley. As if

 

we were the first ones. As if

there’d never been

a slaughter.

 

Animals we might have drawn

on cliffsides or painted

deep inside sacred caves.

 

Instead we rove, taking photos

at every fresh encounter.

 

Near dusk the generations began

a slow drift across the roadway

and for some minutes were

all around us, dream creatures

cloaked in ragged mass,

horned and hoofed

inscrutable densities.

 

So this is awe.

 

We stopped the car.

We had no choice.

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