Manifest Destiny by Lisa Grove

I promised him buffalo. We left the deer in Michigan—twitches of tongue and fur in the roadside grass. The wind skins the plains of South Dakota, and we lick clean the pleiosaur bones. No buffalo. We wave to the Maserati Man, stopped for gas on the other side of Needle’s Eye, Wyoming. We enter the Kingdom of Anthills, but still no buffalo. Outside Milk-and-Honey, Utah a consolation of horns peeks over a hill—the lawn antelope of a brass menagerie. Eight states, five pillars of salt, four venison hot dogs, two Holiday Inn baptismal fonts, and no buffalo—and the triumphs of American expansionism are starting to make me look like a jackass. We park in the lot adjacent to Zion—Praise be! Praise be! Praise be to the cloudy skies! Buffalo humps rise—a herd of shag carpet suns over a wood fence edge of otherworld. The buffalo graze—unwitting as we hawk—tongues twitch, unstitch the sweet grass. Six thousand years ago, a star exploded, and a warm wind shovels dirt over our cheeks.

Lisa Grove‘s poetry has appeared in Beloit Poetry JournalA cappella ZooJellyfish Magazine, and elsewhere. She lives in Los Angeles.

Lead image“buffalo group” (via Flickr user Jerry Burke)