For the Vanished Herds of Great Plains Buffalo
Old Lady Horse
told how the last great herd appeared
to a Kiowa woman:
gathering water from the creekside,
she sees them rise with the first light,
some wounded over rushing water,
scarred horns in the mists.
Old Lady Horse said,
The calves and their mothers
and the few young males
walked to a mountain
and the face of the mountain opened.
Inside it, the world
was green and fresh again
as it had been when she was a young girl.
The rivers ran clear, not red.
The wild plums were in blossom.
Into this world the buffalo walked,
never to be seen again.
Old Lady Horse,
please tell me you mean all of the tribe,
all of the millions of buffalo killed
are still grazing and galloping there
in that better world
within the mountain.
Matt Schumacher's fifth collection of poetry, "Ghost Town Odes," is forthcoming from redbat books. He helps edit the journal Phantom Drift and lives in Portland, Oregon.