B. J. Buckley ’76 has written a new collection of poems, Spaces Both Infinite and Eternal (Limberlost Press) which considers the natural world, quiet, unspoken events—the accidental death of an owl, a porcupine gorging on apples, unobserved fragrant meadows, the roar of wind through cottonwoods. The presence of man is barely acknowledged in the rugged western landscapes of these poems. Buckley’s voice is a quiet guide through rural, mountainous territory.
Her book is printed letterpress, using lead type on a old hand-fed platen press.
A native of Wyoming, Buckley lives on a ranch near Power, Montana. She has worked in Arts-in-the-Schools programs throughout the Rocky Mountain West for more than 30 years. She is the author of two previous books of poems, Artifacts (Willow Bee Press) and Moonhorses & The Red Bull, with artist Dawn Trask (Pronghorn Press). For her writing, she has received the Joy Harjo Prize from Cutbank: A Journal of the Arts, the Rita Dove Poetry Award from the center for Women Writers at Salem College, The Robert Penn Warren Narrative Poetry Prize, and the Comstock Review Poetry Prize. Her work also currently appears in About Place: The Future of Water.
by B. J. Buckley
In the low bluffs, bones of buffalo lie exposed
by spring rains. So much meat, and the wind still hungry,
still cold at heart. Rain: a thousand hooves pounding dust.
Scattered out of the cattails the red-winged blackbirds,
evading for now, a hawk’s pursuit — falling, winged ash,
back into the green fire of the reeds, raining song over their enemies.
The horses are turned ass into the wind, rain saddling their flanks.
Clouds of breath rise from flared nostrils, manes knotted with damp,
the beautiful muscles rippling beneath their skins like rain-swollen rivers.
By late afternoon the sun’s corralled the thunderheads,
reined them in. Meadowlarks flash out of the coulees, yellow,
yellow — if only all wars could be so easily broken.
So many acres of stony ground, so many acres of clay —
It takes long hard rains to soak in, to crack the dessicated
seed — rainbows of wildflowers arching over the hills.
Fifty years might pass before another blossoming;
a lifetime between rains. The heart’s a mustang — it won’t be broken.
Look, how swallows thread the sky, weaving the blue cloth of darkness!
From Spaces Both Infinite and Eternal