Darl could track anything, and evenings when work would slack

he’d take me and Clay out to try and make us less useless. Marks,

he was always saying, anything put a foot or a feather or its ass

down out there leaves marks, in the sage and prairie grass and dust,

and some of them wind or rain or snowmelt erase pretty quick, but

others’ll still be there when humans are long gone. Them buffalo,

Darl said, you could still tell the long roads they walked from one

place of good grass or water to another, always a wavy weaving

zig-zag sort of trail, not like cows who walk in straight lines.

Buffalo got eyes on the sides of their heads, they flat can’t see

anything that’s smack in front of them – so they look right, trot

that way a little while, look left, walk that way some, then right,

left, thousands of miles. Marks on the land, across river bottoms

where no river’s flowed since the ice retreated, shallow grooves

in eroded sandstone, a pale and undulating ribbon in the shortgrass

a million hooves made, their path still visible in the moonlight.

So we won’t get lost, Darl said, so we’ll know which way to go.