— Cannonball River, November 2016
We committed ourselves to the prairie,
bees without a queen, swarming frozen ground.
Our hours lifted their lacy black veils —
a procession of grieving women.
Broke, we talked of wilderness
and failure, time’s sentient materialism,
the clock without hands now, without its tick —
awoke, snow-covered, in a dead meadow.
Watching the sunrise rake across stones
I think about stories superimposed,
all these bodies passing through each other.
mudbank Startled, a doe slips into fog — a fugue
blows my shadow to the other side of grief.
We sort more piles of things — no answer.
Fresh hay for horse feed; tipi poles; propane.
Hours like dull gold blow across the prairie.
Oatmeal, canned beans. Garlic salt, hominy.
White, brown, or wild rice.
Rock salt. Flour.
A queen travels to the inner reaches
alone, by foot, lanterns clicking through grass.
Brightness for a moment, until time
returns, and I remember who I am,
how crowded this terminal of the world —
deer gutted at the mudbank,
hoofprints trailing into winter wheat.
JENNIFER ELISE FOERSTER