Migration

by Tricia Elliott

 

As you grasped the bony curve, lifting it from the riverbank

into the shifting, slanting light, it became

the most beautiful thing

you had ever seen.

An antler, dropped by passing caribou,

pressed cool and coarse within your palms.

 

With this slender bone as needle,

you knitted your heart to this land, to our herd,

to an idea: that this bit of grown rock means something. It is

precious,

invaluable,

irreplaceable.

 

Years later, it still calls to you of journey

from its place upon your wall,

this reminder of choice,

this find of fierce love,

this talisman of truth.

 

But today

has been deafening.

Sometimes loss breaks harder

than any bone.

Today, grief has emptied your grip and sapped your step.

Your heart casts long shadows

across the rocks.

 

Traveler,

there is no shame in losing your way.

We all separate from the herd

from time to time.

Bring this loss with you

as you spin between the shards.

A fracture is an opening,

every break, a beginning,

 

each step, a return.

Move slowly now

among the sunlit sedge,

climb up the wind scoured moraine.

Our trail is hoof-beaten

and spare, a barely visible trampling

among the rocks.

It is an old, old road.

Look there for the peace

in our pieces:

the thunder of hoof and tundra,

the joy in running, nose to air,

the rush of deep river crossing,

the windy music

of storm-tossed tussocks.

 

We know the herd,

and change,

and hunger.

These are the elements

of love

and loss,

but grief does not gather here.

What we know is presence,

and absence,

and the whole.

What we offer

isn’t meant to comfort you.

What you need is already here:

the magic in the bones,

the mercy in our mending,

the grace in each season.

 

The way is winding

and exposed,

but you have already begun.

Return to us, to the herd,

to yourself.

We move in love to your

arrival,

and your remembering

of an unbroken longing for the journey,

the migration’s pull upon us all.

TRICIA ELLIOTT

Tricia is an emerging writer who lives in a yurt in Alaska with her husband, two girls (ages seven and nine), and two dogs. She is an odd combination of physician and mystic, teacher and perpetual student, wilderness enthusiast and advocate of human nature. She finds joy in tracking wildlife, photographing the sublime, and endeavouring always to live and love and play like her dogs do, every day.