Vanishing Prairie by Michael Brown

Vanishing Prairie

The burnished yellow grass of the sun-
parched prairie grass, brittle and broken
by the wind, platters up a solitary rider.
Still as ice; fastened to the horizon
by ebony eyes, seeking sustenance
for his family and his people.

At the edge, the seam, the crack where
the periwinkle blue and the chrome yellow
join, comes a speck, a dot, a fractured movement.
Against the brassy glare the blackened silhouette
wavers like a mirage, a glistening ripple
gaining mass heartbeat by heartbeat.

Still, eternally still, the rider breathes
with the breeze and the buzz of the insects.
Can life be coming, will talking stomachs
be silenced, are there skins for clothing,
and shelter, gut for bowstrings, horn for blades
and greasy smiles for the children?

The speck is now a shape, a thing that can
be known. A buffalo, the leader of a herd?
The creatures’ size and shape can be defined.
The empty space behind the bison steals the heart.
The wind does not carry the smells or sounds
of the rest of the herd. Eternity on the horizon.

The Tatanka are missing. Where are the others?
As a boy the the bison were as an ocean,
filling the prairie with hooves, horn, muscle and fur.
The hunt took the whole tribe into action,
from cooking pots to sharpened lances.
Each person eager to give to the hunt.

The lone rider, known to his people as Red Wolf,
studies Tatanka’s approach. As the distance behind
becomes a distance beyond, Red Wolf’s despair
all but consumes his purpose. The magnificent
animal forages ahead on a return journey,
he too, looking for more of his kind

Red Wolf can’t help but notice the scars
and the bull’s arythmic gait from a wound
on his hip. The dried blood, a muddy brown,
shows where a not so old bullet still lodges.
“Where are your people”, calls out Red Wolf.
“The long rifles take us” replies Tatanka.

“I have come for you” declares Red Wolf.
“That I know and welcome, I find no honor
in the long distance death” replies Tatanka.
“But I will not be the one who takes the last
of your people” states Red Wolf. “ My time
is past, as yours follows” replies Tatanka.

Saddened by the truth, Red Wolf turns away,
leaving the noble beast to his life and dreams.
As he rides toward the mountains, thinking
of his family he does not hear the bullet
that passes through his heart and out his chest.
His riderless horse heading, at last, for home.

Embi  9/24/11

On 9/24/11, Michael Butler <> wrote:



This entry was posted on Sunday, September 25th, 2011 at 5:46 PM and filed under Alumni, Uncategorized. Follow comments here with the RSS 2.0 feed. Skip to the end and leave a response. Trackbacks are closed.

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