Helena Obit

Been working on this one for a while.

Helena Obit
by Laird Barron


As a man and his dog traveled a
Dirt road in the mountains
An elk lurched, flop-eared, from the briars
Among the ponderosa pine.

Muzzle scarred; gray flanks claw-lashed
Mother of many calves
She’d waded creeks and snowdrifts
And kicked free of wolfpacks.

Her elk eyes were black as river stones.

The dog strained against the leash
Primitive blood recalling the drone of horns
A savage chase and then hurled spears.

The elk regarded them.
Fearless and innocent
Her blood recalled nothing of the spear.

She ambled along barbwire, hooves kicking up the soot
Of last summer’s fire
Until she found a gap and darted into the pines.
Fleeting shadow, always west.


Years grind the mountains to the pitted edge of a flint ax.
The man leaves his dog in an alpine field to rest.

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