/k indermaur

American Bison


Vast valley fields fill with snow,
with hoofprints and slosh, awakening.
Bison calves stand atop spindle leg bones
within an hour after birth. They nurse,
hoofs caught in snow, caught in cold.

National mammal: red meat, red heartbeat,
once harvested like hay with the scythe
of railway men’s rifle barrels perched
on passenger windowsills. Bullet-riddled
bodies were left to rot in open prairie.

We may not live here, but we can kill what does.
We may not live here, but we can keep
the babies warm in the backseat. They tried,
thrust the calf back to sagebrush, drafted
a pact in which this land forgets by seasons.

The baby kept returning to the road, kept
returning, kept unlearning. Rangers removed
their hats. Ranchers cultivated a more
calculated culling. Landscape left
to choke its dry throat on carcass cries.


Katherine Indermaur’s writing can be found at CALAMITY, Gramma Poetry, and elsewhere. She is an MFA candidate at Colorado State University and the Managing Editor for Colorado Review. She resides in Colorado and Wyoming.