Kevin L. Cole


In the ravine that cleaves two meadows I found
The bone house.
Femurs, spines, a split skull, rib cage, half an antler spread.
Some scattered haphazard
By scavengers, some shaped like nautiluses
By the sluggish shove of last spring’s retreating snow.

I have walked this ravine a thousand times,
Never seeing the bones or feeling them under my feet.
But now the thick buffalo grass, the skin of the ravine,
Is diminutive and sere, as brittle and pale as the bones themselves:
It is the season for the grass to concede,
To reveal the secret—where the deer come to die.

I return home in the mid-afternoon, a medieval pilgrim with relics
Walking the border between meadow and corn.
Against the sapphire sky a waxing crescent moon,
Underneath the moon, a thin thread of crows flying low
In single file like a somber jury that must deliver its verdict.
Flushed from my shoes, grasshoppers rattle against husk and leaf.

Just when I think I myself will concede to the judgment
Of the crows, two deer, a doe and four-point in felt,
Bound out of the corn. They pause and stare at me,
Me with my reliquary of winter’s bones and they
With their shanks brushing up against
Cup plant and blazing star, rising with furor out of a burned earth.

Kevin L. Cole

has contributed poems to The Briar Cliff Review, Paddlefish, and Poetry East, among other places. His first manuscript of poetry, €”currently unpublished, €”is When Snow Turns Blue. In addition to poetry, he writes plays and is at work on a collection of essays about poets and painters. He has received two South Dakota Arts Council/NEA grants: one for short fiction and one for poetry. He lives in and works in and around Sioux Falls, South Dakota.