A feather in his braid, the old man spoke
About a story told to him before
When people lived together in this world;
In such a way that they were part of it.
Brave they were, hunting mighty beasts
On ancient grassy plains which spread so far,
That they could never see the end of it.
And every sunny day was that way.
The old man tells the tale which he once heard
About a female beast within a herd
Who looks out with her dim lit eyes at things
And knows their sound and scent quite well:
Grazing is nice at any time
And especially good in the morning sun
On the open plains before the dawn
With the rest of the buffalo coming along.
She loves to graze on sweet long grass
Rubbing shoulders with her herd
When the cool gray light of the dawn is met
By the flare of the sun on the open plain.
She nuzzles her little red buffalo calf
Nudging him close to the best tasting grass
And she looks at the rest of the herd nearby,
Proud of her yearling – as big as a man.
She follows the scent of one male buffalo
Moving along at the edge of the herd.
He leads them ahead in the golden dawn;
His scent seems right, but something is wrong.
“Yip, Yip,” she hears the coyote cry.
She squints to see it’s pointy snout,
And smells the predator dog so close
It makes her heart beat hard and strong.
And then she hears the stomp of hooves
Of leading males on the hardened soil
To warn the predators away
And she nudges the little red calf along.
The herd is moving quickly now;
A thousand hooves on the open plain
Creating a thundering drumming sound,
And the smell of coyote is all around.
There is buffalo fear in the morning air
As they run along towards a place
Where they all think they will be safe,
Away from that frightening predator space.
Then each begins to disappear
Over a ridge and away from the threat.
They did not know how they each would be met
By the cold hard ground at the base of the pit.
6 Aug 2021
For Scarborough Poetry Club on “The Climate Crisis.”
Question for readers: Do you think this poem relates in any way to The Climate Crisis?