This is my own wilderness

beginning with my fingertips,

cascade tree stubble to silt;

at my right hand, Fontenelle,

mule fawn in green dark,

soft dapple of touch

by sunlight through

leaves brown and green.

It is forest here

with the plains

opening at my back—

the Platte to Northfork,

Chimney Rock and Courthouse Rock.

Mandan in memory of the dead—

deer rustle among dead leaves

and slip elms—memorial of

nine villages to the north

that were clustered about

the head-waters of the river’s

southward flow, a turn

bending down to Fontenelle,

the soft soil that holds

against generations of rainwater

the dark stains of their covered fires.

Selected Poems (Asphodel Press, 1994)








Photo by John Davey