Go West

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Timothy Murphy

Go West


      I. West River

      When we drove west, we thirsted for surprise,
      not buttes, we knew exactly where they were,
      but the first magpie to delight our eyes,
      black on its white, the shelterbelt a blur,
      evidence that the East was left behind,
      a mowing of the tall grass prairie mind.

      II. Sheyenne National Grasslands

      Three years I’ve seen him. Why is this eagle here—
      a flowing well? His range is twenty miles.
      I think he’s here to gorge on road-killed deer
      or wounded, which the hunters with wry smiles
      give up on and the coyotes never see.
      He stares unblinking from a leafless tree.

      III. Front Range

      Oh, you can keep your mountains, your Divide.
      I can be just as dwarfed much nearer home
      by horizontal grandeur, where the wide
      Missouri severs drift moraine from loam
      and ghosts of buffalo graze virgin grass
      long since plowed under. Friends, we too shall pass.