Fort Bonneville, Wyoming

Along the highway there’s a place
where nothing’s left: suggestive mounds of dirt,
a marker to commemorate abandon

inside this elbow of the Green. Bristly
cottonwoods abound in serpentine, bound
by water to the banks their roots uphold—

this is a kind of love, a state of need
distilled and tough. The riffle makes
slim disks in the current, clicking. No,

it’s not so pretty past the Divide, just shy
of Utah desert—unless you rode across
the country to be defined

by mountains, rivers, and sage; to build
where snow comes early and lasts, where coupled
sandhill cranes wheel south to Mexico each fall.

And in Wyoming’s thrall, perhaps you find
the heart is a poor fort, was never meant
for stockade. Then the weather comes like a train. 

Upon excavation, they found some ocher
and wood, one iron wrench, one file and part
of a key. One hand-wrought nail—

all portent falters here, where every presence,
even yours, seems buffeted and slight.

Copyright © 2008 by Cecily Parks. “Folly” originally appeared in Field Folly Snow (University of Georgia Press, 2008). Used with permission of the author.