Special Guides » The Poetry Issue

Upper Thompson River in Late Summer

by

4e1df6_406d6824faca4e89a6d7036d30611574.png_srz_965_643_85_22_0.50_1.20_0.png

I.

There is a gash in the sky.
Westward, a weather system
moving in. The wind has picked up:
rain or a dry thunderstorm. The sunset lilac
from fires in Idaho. A chopper cuts
the silence, a lazy sprinkler too.

On the highway, a cow moose patrols
her just-slain calf. Driving 70, I can still see
the babe is all legs. The mother false-skitters
at my passing, but stays.

II.

I have moved into the pioneer cabin by the river. Banging screen door,
the place smells of dust and tobacco. Cattle inspect then lean against
my car. A grey tabby shoots from under the porch. On the steps, the
sun-bleached skull of an animal. Last night the coyotes got to yipping
across the valley in stereo.

III.

My bones have memorized the rattle of gate-crossing.
If I caved, I didn’t know. Saddled and resigned. Held

my breath the night a mountain lion took down
a doe before me. Amplified sounds of ripping,

no wailing. Silhouettes of ponderosa pines skirting
the pasture. Vanilla coming off the bark, still warm.

Latest in The Poetry Issue

Readers also liked…