Gathering on an autumn afternoon along tawny hills
above the Pacific on a narrow peninsula, poised along
a groove in the ground, diverse in size and age, drab
in duns and tans of outdoor gear: They have driven and hiked
miles for snapshots of nature at a remove. In a valley at their feet:
a harem of elk ruminating as one bull elk, antlers exceeding
epaulets, circles, keeping order. Across from the binocular-eyed
line, two other bulls rest in grass.
Through the ranger’s telescope, each person squints at stoic,
magnificent elk, shimmering tones of brown in the haze.
Among the observers, a hunter speaks loudly, sharing his experience
unbidden. How much he knows. And how little—ignoring
what’s needed here: silence.
Pat Tompkins is an editor in northern California. Her poems have appeared in Dwarf Stars, Sunlight Press, Channel, and other publications.