“Death in Yellowstone” by Therese Broderick

You may know of my fondness for bears. At a recent poet’s gathering, Therese Broderick made me smile with this vacation story about her daughter. We first met several years ago when she was part of a poetry circle with Mary Kathryn Jablonski and Georganna Millman. This poem appeared in the Spoon River Poetry Review and then in Therese’s chapbook, At April’s End. She’s an active blogger.

Death in Yellowstone

Is the most popular book in the store
Brags the cashier as my daughter pays,
The only thing she wants as souvenir. Death
Is what fascinates her at age twelve, not yet
Sex which is what most of Yellowstone is
All about — a wild parade of rutting deer
And horny bison and bull moose mounting
Cow moose and shamelessly multiplying
Fish in see-through lakes. All this, my
Daughter ignores. It’s death that seduces
And so I do my best to protect her
With sunscreen and tick repellant,
Water bottle and triple-tied sneakers,
Well-done buffalo steak at dinner
And above all, no wandering away from
The tour group. No stepping off
The safety boardwalk into geysers,
Hot springs, fumaroles and mud pots
Which dissolve flesh. Twenty-six
Boiled bodies at last count, according
To the book which she reads aloud
On the bus instead of watching the view.
She keeps reading while the tour guide
Rallies adults to play a trivia game
Survival in the Desert. Which of the
Items on this list will save your life?
The answer is not what I had hoped —
A well-prepared mother. It’s the pretty
Lady’s cosmetic mirror which can be used
To alert a pilot searching from the air.
Sex again, I think to myself, always that
Pursuit of the signal which says, “Here I am
Flashing, come get me.” But my daughter
Misses that game, too, more engrossed in
The chapter about bears which eat children
Who have spread themselves with honey.

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The Mother Grouse Blog is produced by Will Nixon, author of My Late Mother as a Ruffed Grouse and Love in the City of Grudges available on-line.

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