In the shallow ground and clay,
mats of filaree cling like crimson moss
after frost as if holding their breath for rain.
Yet warm enough for mustard bloom
in ungrazed traps for cattle, bits of yellow
at the tender tips of leafy greens—
all of the same seed that natives came
from Badger to gather when I was young.
White heads of Shepherd’s Purse nod
in bloom above the short-cropped blades
of lusher grass as if already spring.
Steep south slopes struggle, more mottled
brown than green—we beg and wait for rain:
busy fixing fences, branding calves, feeding hay
to bloating cows after years of drought
as high-pressure herds a warm jet stream north
to feed Alberta Clippers East with unwanted snow.
We crave some sort of normal
that has become a hazy dream:
of cattle fat and happy, of time
to idly wile and waste
that old men will never see again.
Yet full of trust, trailing tidbits
from the gods, we chase it
like the feed truck still believing—
and that is normal despite extremes.