a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
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.
B.J. Buckley is a Montana poet and writer who has worked as a teaching artist in Arts-in-Schools and Communities programs throughout the West and Midwest for more than four decades. She is the recent winner of the 35th Anniversary Comstock Review Poetry Chapbook Prize. Current and forthcoming work appears in Calyx, SWWIM, Grub Street 2022, Sugar House Review, ellipsis, Whitefish Review, and Visions International.