Outside My Cabin
The day the buffalo appeared
where I live with wild horses.
I thought, They are clearing the land again
after the old growth, as they did
clear us away,
then the wild horses,
and even the wolves.
Recently a pack of wolves came down
from the Yellowstone fire,
five ghostly presences floating
across the snow.
No one believed me at first
and that was good
because no shooters saw them here.
It was as if they were transparent,
but the ghostly animals killed a deer
outside my window.
I followed the blood,
a thinning trail to the pink, chewed bones,
only teeth marks still on them.
Later I returned from work
to find they’d attacked an elk.
When I stepped forward
they disappeared so quickly
into the wind-blown snow
but the still living elk remained close
with the horses
until it healed.
I was its protector.
Then it was gone.
I tell no one
about the buffalo
living here now
because I know what they would do.
You ask why would they do it.
I think it is in their blood
to leave a forest of cleared trees
a wake of red,
as if they can
The Bears Eating
The ocean is never still,
the earth moves we know
because there are those who measure it.
Nothing is ever quiet.
No living thing is silent.
The cracking of bones wakes me at night
and I do not know this new sound,
but two bears are at the skeleton wolves left behind,
eating the fat in bones.
Even last winter’s old death makes a noise
with the new life roused.
The Writing of Snow
Snow is a book of history
writing its new language,
changed moment by moment,
but I read the tracks I find before the wind.
Here a flatness passes through
with claw marks on each side,
the tail of a beaver that slipped into the water
that wishes not to be petrified as ice
so the currents turn it crystal instead,
ice in beautiful turrets,
formations of geology,
layered, some old, some deep.
The story is newly changed
each day as I come read the tracks of the living,
bobcat, deer prints like punctuation,
and wonder, like the mysteries in a human,
what creatures, what songs, what countries,
swim beneath it all, or above
and the sky entire white
sometimes the wing marks on
new snow, each small crystal falling
with its own original say.
-from A History of Kindness (Torrey House Press 2020, Pulitzer Prize Finalist), selected by Fall 2021 Guest Editor, CMarie Fuhrman
A Chickasaw novelist, essayist, and environmentalist, Linda Hogan was born in Denver, Colorado. She earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs and an MA in English and creative writing from the University of Colorado-Boulder. Hogan is the author of the poetry collections Calling Myself Home (1978); Daughters, I Love You (1981); Eclipse (1983); Seeing Through the Sun (1985), which won the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation; Savings (1988), The Book of Medicines, a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist (1993); Rounding the Human Corners (2008); Indios (2012); and Dark. Sweet. New and Selected Poems (2014). Intimately connected to her political and spiritual concerns, Hogan’s poetry deals with issues such as the environment and eco-feminism, the relocation of Native Americans, and historical narratives, including oral histories. William Kittredge, in his introduction to Hogan’s Rounding the Human Corners, noted, “poets like Linda, through their language, open for us a doorway into their specific resonating dream of the electric universe.”