Word count 347
Saltese Flats, Washington
Vast grasslands, etched by forest, undulate in rolling waves. Mica Peak towers.
Strong winds bend cattails on the lake. A leaf falls; small ripples expand.
Wetlands drain into the Spokane River where in 1858, eight-hundred Palouse
horses were massacred by Colonel Wright, spiritually devastating native people. Time does
not heal wounds that resonate from old bones in the sand.
A Screech Owl pierces the night; luminous clouds drift. The moon glides between
them. Damp rushes exhale ghosts: fog floods the valley floor in a gray shroud of
The sun rises: a lasp wisp of mist, memories disappear, lifted by wind and carried
back in time.
White swans bank against the dark mountain, a flash of sunlight on wings. They
run on water and coast to a stop. Graceful wings furl. Curled necks seek
reflections and float by a blue silhouette. A heron poised on one leg, sharp eyes
A hatchling turtle paddles down the road. I plunk it in a puddle. Water bugs skate
over bubbles. Last summer, I discovered a hard carapace crushed and left to die. A
shattered under belly of brilliant reds and yellows. Thirty years, cancelled.
Colonel Wright’s legacy prowls the valley.
A large gathering of male deer captures attention. Antlered sculptures promenade.
Massive five-point racks gently joust a two-point challenger. They lower their heads to
Rifles are loaded, horses saddled up; engines roar: stopped by my implacable will.
This place is my home because I followed brittle shards in a frozen track.
Footprints filled with ice revealed a decapitated pregnant- doe. Half buried in
snow, shrink-wrapped flesh peeled from bristled bone. A fragile skeleton of an
unborn fawn lay encased within a shell of ribs. I picked up a fragment. A tiny
jaw lined with calcium seeds, milk teeth scattered by predators. I replaced
it inside her vanished heart.
Frost bit the tips of my fingers, liquid grief melted snow. I stay because screams
of terrified horses ride the winds of time and are soothed by my