From a distance the herd, a fuzzy
restless archipelago, dull brown
warmed to chestnut by sunlight,
grazes a golden high-country meadow,
heedless of observation.
Different, when, driving along
you’re snagged in the flow, muddle
of scraggly dark hulks plodding
in a surrounding scrum, intent
on a destination, a purpose, unknown.
Now you’re exposed to scabs,
warts, reek, seepage from a weary
obdurate eye, biting flies swarming
where the torn coat reveals
a newer, raw wound.
The press of memories is easier
from afar. That happened, there.
Then they move in. Surrounded, in thrall
to those heavy beasts this close to extinction,
you scrutinize each scar.
Jeanne Julian is author of Like the O in Hope and two chapbooks. Her poems are in Kakalak, Poetry Quarterly, Ocotillo Review and elsewhere, and have won awards from Reed Magazine, Comstock Review, Naugatuck River Review, and Maine Poets’ Society. She regularly reviews books for The Main Street Rag http://www.jeannejulian.com