Fort Bidwell

These words are mine.
The pines darkening
in October snow.
The road descending
to an alkali plain,
these few houses.

The wind drives the owl
from his daytime bed
crystals form
inside the window
The light of day
is neutral.

Smoke rises from the store chimney,
but what is there to bring
in cold-crippled fingers,
what to barter
for an empty land?

Captain Jack
held back this day
until he died,
trading lives in lava beds
for this diminishing.

We keep the wind, the water
frozen in castoff tires,
cinder blocks and shingles,
the school
at the road’s end.

It is Fort Bidwell
at a closing year
a Modoc village
against the mountain
a Plymouth stalled
on the highway.

Modoc, you are gone now
I beat you out of my heart
with the slow easy thunder
of drums.
The day lies in drifts
across the road.

© Mike Bond 2012
First published in South Dakota Review

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