A Land Before Time

Bonnie Manion


A bobcat creeps between pinon pines

pursuing mule deer down a rocky spine,

oblivious to its sheer decline, to the canyon’s

daunting depth and size, its ageless grandeur.


A squaw squints hard against the blinding sun,

treads ancient crinoids to reach each bristlecone,  

to harvest a fern bush, a sagebrush, the cliffrose, adjusting a bark backboard to ease her childload.


The Piute descends through a narrow crevasse

to her riverside garden of corn and  squash,

to her dug-out oven firing bricks and pots,

to her pueblo hidden under a dome of rock.


Through scattered light in the great abyss

a raven soars on an upswept gust, hunts

cat-eared squirrels and chipmunk-rats 

scurrying past fossilized dinosaur tracks.


published in America Magazine