Back to Janet

 

 

 

Lacreek Refuge

In the rich, wild sunset, the deer plunge across the belly- high grass of the prairie. The deer are rainbow running, rocking like ships, through waves of vegetation, through big bluestem and needle-and-pin, through sedge; they are  leaping, flowing, like waves themselves. They belong here.
 
On the refuge, the wild tom turkeys challenge even a truck, and the pheasants cackle at us like chickens. We hear the whir of their wings, twenty of them, thirty, forty in the spent corn, in the grasses cured with the first cold of October.
 
The sky spills over them, over us.
 
A cottonwood erupts out of the bottomland down near the marshes, down near the border with Nebraska, down near the Sandhills, on roads where the mud is so deep the hunters gave up.
 
All the sky is full of the sound of pheasants, male and female, moving in the grass, coming out on the road. There is a rainbow, a pillar of a rainbow, a base of a rainbow fat as time in the East.
 
The deer belong here, were born here, die here; the pheasants belong here.
 
The wild turkeys, the owls, the herons, the wild geese, the minks that dart from one side of the muddy road to the other belong here, the prairie dogs, their sentinels popping up checking us out, whistling, belong here. They have a call for rattlesnakes. Do they have a call for us?
 
The grass is waist deep, and the wind is waist deep. The sky is deeper than dreams. The deer buck over the prairie, lunge over it, fly over it, ten, twenty, thirty of them, running to the edge of the world, to the fat pillar of rainbow.
 
In the tire tracks of the hunters’ trucks there are reflected rainbows in the U-turns they made when they gave up, hunters who were not born here, will not die here.
 
A hawk sees it all before the sun sets, a Red-Tail, and he circles and counts us one by one. How many of us are there? How many predators? How many prey? How much rainbow light is there in the tire tracks?
 
On the refuge, there are deer by the hundreds, pheasant by the hundreds, pelicans by the hundreds. All safe tonight. 
 
The rainbow light of their beauty is in my eyes forever. I see them as they were a thousand years ago. The wonder of it is like the pillar of rainbows, like huge anvil clouds against the scarlet gold western sky.