For my dad, on Father’s Day

turtle rock trail, Vedauwoo

Walk softly, like the Indians.  Take long strides. 

This is lichen.  That’s a beaver dam.  These are brook trout.  Rainbow trout.  Walleye.

This grass has roots you can eat.  Don’t touch those mushrooms.  Don’t eat these berries.  Don’t drink this water.

This is a handhold.  This is a foothold.  These roots will hold your weight; those won’t.  Pick a spot when you jump.  Use your knees when you land.  Find a cave in a thunderstorm.

This is a starling, a meadowlark, a hawk, an eagle.  This is a nest.  This is why you don’t touch it.

This is Saratoga.  This is Thermopolis. Evanston.  Laramie.  This is where you are from.

Those are thistles.  Those are stickbugs.  Here are moths . . . here are hundreds and hundreds of moths.  This is a vacuum.  This is your ceiling, safe again.

This is your grandmother, your great grandmother, your grandfather, your great grandfather.  These are my cousins.  These are your cousins.  These are the people who love you.

This is a mountain.  This is the prairie.  This is new snow, chilly air, bright sunlight.  This is what belongs to all of us.

Walk softly; take long strides.  This is who you are.


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