Helena Obit

Been working on this one for a while.
A long time ago, I was up in the mountains of Western Montana walking with my dog and my brother. There’d been a huge fire the previous year. It left behind ankle-deep ash and copses of trees–dead and green mixed.

An elk emerged from the underbrush. My dog, Athena, lost her mind. The elk dismissed our presence. She found a break in the cattle fencing that crisscrosses the wilderness in that part of the world. She took off through the trees. I haven’t forgotten her.

Helena Obit
by Laird Barron


As a man and his dog traveled a
Dirt road in the mountains
An elk lurched, flop-eared, from the briars
Among the ponderosa pine.

Muzzle scarred; gray flanks claw-lashed
Mother of many calves
She’d waded creeks and snowdrifts
And kicked free of wolfpacks.

Her elk eyes were black as river stones.

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