July 18, 2012KR OnlinePoetry

Loyal Order Of

Butte, MT 1927

The sky’s traffic is cumulus, but not too.
Our elk’s an arch across Main. Eighty feet high
and just as wide. Beneath its copper-gilded withers
pass boys with tubas, teen twirlers, wreathed
ponies, and the miners’ widows—in turn
and on time. Elk of extended thanks.
Darkness adorns those antlers long before
it decks us. Raucous was the way up the Great
Divide; raucous the way down, past the ore-carts,
past the blind mules dozing on their feet.
Dear elk, mayn’t we dote awhile longer?
We do it so well from below. March we tall
toward the short story’s end. We were all
you withstood. So toots the piccolo.

Nance Van Winckel is the author of eight books of poetry, most recently Our Foreigner, winner of the Pacific Coast Poetry Series Prize (Beyond Baroque Press, 2017), Book of No Ledge (Pleiades Press Visual Poetry Series, 2016), and Pacific Walkers (U. of Washington Press, 2014). Find her at www.nancevanwinckel.com.