Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Roiling up a dust storm to rid
themselves of flies, pastured bison
look prehistoric, huge plush heads
bobbing as they writhe on the ground.
Their hides look bulletproof yet
men on passing trains wasted
entire herds by shooting them
and leaving the carcasses to rot.
These look relatively pampered,
but will become buffalo burgers
on a thousand backyard propane grills.
Bison don’t belong in New England.
Clouds of deerflies, horseflies, greenheads
madden them, while the range
lacks the distant horizons
bison evolved to exploit.
I want to touch their bulky faces,
stroke away the insects; but creatures
like these resist becoming pets.
I want to write their history,
but they wouldn’t want to read it,
nodding over the largest typeface
with boredom gruff as a snore.
Back in the car and driving north,
I glance in the mirror and catch
one bluff critter sticking its tongue
into the humid air to taste it,
but also razzing me goodbye.
The morning seems a little riper
for having featured bison.
I drive that much more firmly
on the narrow country road
to prove I can’t be herded quite
as easily as bison. The light
simpers with half-suppressed humor
and the stony look of pastureland
ages toward a change of season
that’s creeping up from my knees.