In Arkansas once, by Justin Hamm

Detail from Première rêverie by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

In Arkansas once, 

near the Buffalo River. 
You might remember. 
The loneliest bull elk
left in America slowly 
lifted his racked head 
and looked around 
a vast, empty field. 
It was nearly dark,
the first faint stars
blinking to life above.
A rare moment of quiet
in our car. Even the girls
seemed enchanted. 
Me—I saw myself precisely
as I would be if I ever 
lost you or those babies.
Uncertainty of movement.
Afloat in a field of nothing.
Almost too much effort 
even to lift my thorny head. 
Which is all just to say
I love you more than
these meager words convey.
And this is the reason
I have brought you 
an enormous crate of tacos. 

Justin Hamm is the author of three collections of poetry–The Inheritance, American Ephemeral, and Lessons in Ruin–as well as a book of photographs, Midwestern. He is the founding editor of the museum of americana. His poems, stories, photos, and reviews have appeared in NimrodSouthern Indiana Review, The Midwest QuarterlySugar House Review,  and a host of other publications.

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