Sunday, February 10, 2013

the tawny language of grassland: a poem by Bruce Rice

dawn in one of Grasslands National Park's prairie dog towns

This week's post is a sneak peek at a grassland inspired poem from the forthcoming book by Regina poet and PPPI apparatchik, Bruce Rice. Anyone who has read Gary Snyder's masterful Practice of the Wild will catch the nod to "tawny language."


We made this park when land was cheap.
Even then we weren’t sure
what we bought — poverty saved it.

We gave it to antelope, kit foxes,
rattlers — to the heels of shadows.
It holds us up, this is our ground.

March storms leave cattle bones
hanging from trees in the coulees when the snow drifts
vanish. After that, nothing is strange.

Tourists come to see 12,000 tepee rings, blue
gamma grass, needle-and-thread grass, 70 Mile Butte, and two pages
of things that can kill you.

There’s a space in the text, the tawny language
of years in the open. The things that belong here
live lightly as grass.

And none of them ask,
do you really believe
you’re an animal.

© Bruce Rice 2013

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