I should probably be posting winter-themed material now, but I want to revisit some time I was able to spend in Centennial Valley Montana. This valley sits just above the toe of Idaho and was once the western entrance to Yellowstone. At its peak, hundreds of homesteaders came to the valley pursing the American dream of independence and prosperity. Today, it’s home to cattle ranches, moose and trumpeter swans; this winter the only permanent residents will be the caretakers at Red Rock National Wildlife Refuge.
In the days ahead, I’ll share a series of posts from the valley. Images and words from today and the day before yesterday.
for jane buck,
(who we never knew)
it’s always morning, always
spring when they come to the valley
lugging their trunks full of hope
and industry, fueled by the stew
of anxiety and ambition, stink and sweat
they’d heard this was good ground for grass
and for cows, but birthing anything
is hard business and this is hard land
a land of bad roads and sharp winters
shallow roots and bitter winds
how were they to know
they’d planted their hopes
in such a place of leaving?
empty homesteads dot the valley
like the prints of a great beast, leaving only bones
and skulls, the blackened eyes of glassless windows