Friday, May 30, 2008

Yellowstone, Day 6: One more horseman

stepping steps
breathing breaths
we go off trail
and encounter death

Stepping down from a glacial erratic and descending the slope, we encountered him in a verdant depression. He lurked there in the form of dirtied porcelain spires, torn hide and a blood-stained skull. As I stared into the gaping eyes of the fresh elk kill I was reminded of old westerns, with watering holes full of long dead skeletons, like oasis of death in the desert. But this isn't a western; this is a real death. These eyes I stare into were once filled with hunger, sex, and finally fear.

tourists cried for elk
stop the wolves, they said
seems they wanted a crescent of life
but life comes in cycles
of birth and death

Thankfully, it seems like wolves are here to stay in Yellowstone. Despite controversy when they were first reintroduced, public opinion has swayed in the years since, and wolves are seen by most as an integral part of the ecosystem. To me, Yellowstone without its top predator is like a nature theme park, pristine in many ways, but by no means wild. The kill I saw today was a highlight of the trip so far; it brought close to me the visceral and essential predatory death that makes Yellowstone a true wilderness.

Well, except for all the tourists.

No comments: