Fall 2005 • Vol. XXVII No. 4 Poetry |


The big bull moose I call Hamlet mouthed a wad of ninebark leaves, ruminating in the way of his kind, but also ours, having noticed, I noticed, the long gone spike buck's skull grinning up at him eating. That Hamlet then let fly a steaming peck of fat moose pellets made me wonder some about the funeral rites of men, though I also wondered, when Hamlet nudged the skull's upstanding horn, what it was he felt. A stob to scratch the long snout on, I thought, but did he also think, that great bull moose— who never stopped chewing, who took a shit before he nudged the horn, and after too— where be your gibes, your gambols now, young buck? That was when he caught my scent and snorted, and blew that way that means "stand back" in moose. I'm Polonius, hidden by a tree, I feared, as Hamlet strode my way, horns down. But no. Such madness comes mostly in the fall. This was spring. The clownish buck, winterkilled, was nothing. So the bull, un-Hamlet-like, just stopped

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Robert Wrigley teaches at the University of Idaho. His sixth book, Lives of the Animals, will be published later this year by Penguin, which also published his Reign of Snakes, winner of the 2000 Kingsley Tufts Award.

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