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To a Meadowlark
For M.L. Smoker

Jim Harrison

Up on the Ft. Peck Reservation
(Assiniboine and Sioux)
just as I passed two white crosses
in the ditch I hit a fledgling meadowlark,
the slightest thunk against the carís grille.
A mean minded God
in a mean minded machine, offering
another ghost to the void to join the two
white crosses stabbing upward in the insufferable
air. Wherever we go we do harm, forgiving
ourselves as wheels do cement for wearing
each other out. We set this house
on fire forgetting that we live within.

Driving south of Wolf Point down by Missouri
M.L. Smoker is camped with her Indians,
tipis in a circle, eating buffalo meat for breakfast,
reminding themselves what life may have been.
She says that in the evenings the wild horses
from the terra icognita to the south come
to the river to drink and just stand there
watching the Indians dance. I leave quickly,
still feeling like a bullsnake whipping through
the grass looking for something to kill.