Wyoming Border, Bison

I drive late, going north,
winds so strong out of the foothills
you’ll see eighteen-wheelers
tossed on their sides in the median.
One or two at least, before we make the border,
snow bleaching the Front Range.

The very dead of winter now,
like the chaplain said.

Where our headlights empty,
the stations of my commute drift by:
Carr, Owl Canyon, Buckeye Road,
and the electric shock of the great plains:
they train astronauts in Wyoming,
folks who feel at ease in our cold, cold spaces.

On a high ridge, before the Welcome sign,
a rancher has erected the silhouette of a bison,
knocked together with two-by-fours,
blank, branding even the grass.
And below it, the real animals move
like shades in the underworld,
dozens of them, shrugging off the squall
that’s closed the highway from Casper to Wheatland,
closed the 80 west, all the way to Rawlins.

We’ve brought them back, the bison,
to say goodbye.

My hands itch to touch the coarse mat of their hair,
to finger the frost-crust on the crown
of their siegehammer heads,
the ears that may
have finally stopped listening
to everything we loved, to everything we feared,
to everything we said.

Yellowjackets

It isn’t that I see them human,
these yellowjackets dying in the trap,
or compare the size of brains,
or say that there are other lives
(if there are other lives
as some monks believe),
or claim no wasp will ever cry for me —
none will ever miscount,
innocently kiss,
regret a dull
insensitivity.

But only absolute sadness
in a piece of plastic
hanging from a beam,
the circles they trace on its wall
in the town’s first frost
a million miles from purpose.
It’s just the fact of it is wrong
and nothing else.

Among My Superpowers

One. Finding lost things
my wife could never find,
but I failed with virginity
and no longer count it on my résumé.

Two. Casting protection spells for deer.

Three. Sketching.
Well — until recently.
I can’t draw anymore:
all art discriminates;
it is all about difference,
and I have lost the sense
of one thing in relation to another.

I take off my shoes and place my feet,
heel to sod, in the prairie coneflower,
take a pencil,
but my talent is gone.
The upright toe of the flower,
in the blue grama
like a nub of cherubim,
and the tall rye grass
seem attached to me;
my legs now, articulated like juniper.
The berries on the sand cherry are out,
bulging, livid as the eyes
of damselflies,
and the powder-green sagewort,
that wild shortgrass, fringes my scalp
down to the flint and shale
of this ancient skin.

The pencil disappears.
I find it with the mountain mahogany,
where it has grown feathers.
It is still too weak to fly.
By the weekend it will be
south with Scorpio.