Wishing for something else...

If Wishes Were

You could walk up any creek or canyon
in the Bitterroot watershed, One Horse, Sweeney,
Larry, Bass, Brooks, McCalla, Kootenai,
Big, Sweathouse, Bear, Fred Burr, Blodgett,
Sawtooth or Roaring Lion, and sit down,
feeling a little dizzy maybe, like the nuthatch
clinging upside down on the bark of a pine, and
make a wish.

Before long you might find yourself
wishing for something else. Remember
that old song, Keep your eyes on the prize,
and the line about the only chains we need
are the chains of these hands holding us together.
Somewhere over the rainbow there’s a pot
of lottery tickets. I know the chances
are slim, one page in a ream, or worse, and the sky
is full of what we like to call stars, and if wishes were

horses, or a herd of confused elk down from deep snow
in the mountains, standing at the edge of the highway
watching us watch them as we speed by—maybe we
should just pull over, let things settle down, slow
to a slug’s pace, and maybe they will cross over
to the river as if we hadn’t fenced it off, as if
the highway meant them no harm. See the way
they seem to turn the pasture into an open prairie,
and every step they take has built-in dignity and grace.
Hold up. Here they come. Hold on.


Greg Pape
from Animal Time (Accents Publishing, 2011)