the Soapstone Prairie bison
shift in the long grass,
February snow melted,
morning sun on Red Mountain.
Almost midnight now.
Orion has circled south,
the Great Bear dances
on his tail in the northeast:
late winter on the high plains.
Doing some filing. Finding snippets of verse on half-sheets. Finish or toss? These were saved from the recycling bin by the fact that they must have been written a few years back but at just this time of the season. They have a gratifying tactile quality, like coins pressed in clay.
for Seamus Heaney
Was there any other way to see it?
On our backs, a map of the heavens,
on the ceiling of our schoolboy rooms:
two-dimensional, papered and purple-black,
the whole night sky mimeographed
with periods and static blots for stars,
for the span of our adolescence,
so unmoving we began to hate it.
Perseus, for all his stone-making, dull.
Orion, the winter-maker, dull as ditch swill,
cocked this way and only this.
And then one August new moon night,
away from town, unable to sleep,
hours before dawn, Perseus himself awake,
there is only a depth.
In that depth a speeding light
that starts the puppets talking,
that moves the stuffed bear on the sill.
There is only a depth and one light through it.
A dust that one time only
makes the whole world new.