Friday, May 6, 2016

Poems that count: Eight Buffalo

     In mid-April at the Split This Rock Poetry Festival, one of the sessions I attended and valued had the title " "Eco-Feminist Poetry, Intersectionality, & the End of the Earth."  In the midst of my concern about ecology and women is my addiction to mathematics -- and a poem by Cecilia Llompart started me counting.  See if you, too, count the word "buffalo" eight times during this poem; and shudder when you read the final word.

       Eight Buffalo      by Cecilia Llompart

       An obstinacy of buffalo 
       is not to say that the buffalo 
       are stubborn. No, not like 
       a grass stain. More that 
       the very bulk of one— 
       silk eyed, nostril as big 
       as a fist—is a testament 
       to something we can not 
       name in this life. And that 
       one buffalo, herded off a cliff 
       hoof over big, impossible hoof 
       could feed so many. And that 
       two buffalo could feed so many 
       more. And that three buffalo 
       could feed so many more. 
       Better to say an orbit of buffalo. 
       Better to say where the buffalo 
       roam than where they do not. 
       Three buffalo, four. Better to say 
       an obedience of them. An oblivion.

"Eight Buffalo" is the first of eight poems in a group entitled "Wherever We Roam" and these -- which count all the way down to "One Jackrabbit" -- comprise a section of  Llompart's first first book of poetry, The Wingless (Carnegie Mellon, 2014); it is included here with the poet's permission.

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