Plateau

by Lindsay Emi

(written at the Blacktail Plateau Drive, Wyoming, USA)

In the fields my mother stands stooped
among the bison, her spine
bent into the downward V of their necks,

her hands panning for a wedding ring.
Somewhere among those hills,
there it is. My mother has

found the herd, these bison,
these girls who are solid
and young, unholier than

perjury. She asks them
if they will carry her
on their backs. Let her cling

to the wool shags scarving
their necks. Lift her across
this seething swath of grass.

Find her new names
and dust divots in darkness.
The girls refuse, and their eyes

are fishbowls. Instead
they cast her out, and my mother
gathers memories to press

into raw wounds–collects
small yellow flowers
in crevices, the ghosts of cousins

pocketing disposable cameras,
a covenant broken. Meanwhile,
my father takes a new mantra. Search

for soil, search for land. For sky.
Search for blades. For wedding rings
promised to the earth, and

bibles written in the open curve
of a river. For sage. For smoking
chasms, and fatal footing.