Field Work (Poem)

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Photo by Paul Martini

Field Work

By Austin Holmes

when we awoke in the morning
we broke down camp and drove
to the sandy two-track
then opened the old gate
held to the post by taut rusted wire
as we passed along sagebrush taller than a bull’s spine
we saw a calf head impaled
on a juniper branch serving as a fence post
so fresh the blood still trickled down the bark

twenty five meters down a transect line
two great horned owls, startled by my approach,
fly from their pirch in the pinyon to the
other side of the canyon
from there they chittered and snapped their beaks
into the empty space between us

a velvet ant furred in corrosive orange
scours the earth methodically
ducking its small head into burrows
no larger than a dime
staring into their cored, cyllindrical black
then moving on

dead coyote in the road
jaw snapped
wrenched agape
eyes still fresh and in awe of an end
in the early morning light

dead cow
hide withered three days
turkey vulture and some ravens
squawk at the rations
of Bos taurus

cicadas in the junipers
clacking like tens of thousands
of marbles upon hardwood floors
then comes the whir

storm at night
thunder saturates the sky
a slither outside my tent
is it a rill of water

— Read more poetry by Austin Holmes on the Canyon Echo.