The softened snow of February
is sparse and ripped open
by sharp blond skeletons
of cheat grass and the ragged
brush of diluted sage.
A sharp-shinned hawk
modifies its flight path
away from power lines
avoiding
the territorial redtail that
casts deadly shadows.

The Goshute Reservation shrugs
like a half-halfhearted apology
from a government
that still courts tribal leaders
with their weakened dollars
seeking a trade
for dumping grounds.
Mobile homes and dead cars
broadcast like trash
littered from a passing white van
rest where the buried carcasses
of 6000 sheep
died convulsing on nerve agents
and sleep after counting men.
Unstable tributaries of the melting
blizzards saturate their mass grave.

Stretch out a mile or two
and the muddy turnoff to Iosepa
surprises the crumbling
two lane road.
History smiles, looking back
at a viridescent oasis
of walnut trees
and yellow rosebush-lined streets.
Now a fire hydrant stands
forlornly with the Russian Thistle,
barely bearing witness
of a determined
group of Polynesians
that left their verdant
islands for the one
they constructed
in the high desert.
Eventually turning back,
like most do today to pass the faded
wooden placard reading:
ALOHA Iosepa.

Do wide, isolated valleys yawning
between steep benches
prompt the imagination
to build or obliterate?
I feel the spark.
A lonely white faced cow
scratches herself
on a barbed wire fence
and looks past the highway
where the short-lived afternoon sun
is shattered forever
across the tattered snow.

 

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