Bull Elk

I closed my eyes today and was right there with ya. Some Montana hillside, gravelly and tanned. Cool air in my lungs and warm sun on my back. You were in front of me. Walking uphill to someplace you’ve never been. Like them places you’d always said you were gonna go, but never did. Jealous that I’d been and you hadn’t. I followed a few steps behind ya, light on my feet. At the top you found what you’d been looking for. A rack. Elk’s. Seven points. That dome of its skull hollowed out into a ring. You felt the velvet with your old hands, and you took mine and guided them over the bone, showing me what it is to feel the remnants we don’t know we’ve left, the new things we don’t know we’ve become. You knelt just then. One knee to the dirt. And you put that crown on. Those tines reached up over your brow and spread back behind you. You stood. And the velvet fell from your antlers in ragged chunks, bloody like raw meat. The strands landed on your chest, your face. And then you bugled. Your new voice.

-Kevin Wayne Zerbe

Kevin Wayne Zerbe is a writer and environmental scientist. His work is to know the burden of flowing water, the incremental slog of mountains, the consequences of our actions. His dedication to the conservation of nature informs all he does. He lives with his wife in a stand of wetted Douglas-fir, the scent intoxicating, glimpsing Mount Rainier above the trees. Hunger That Way is his first collection of poetry.