The Buffalo

Neca Stoller

It was before each Thanksgiving
our class collected buffalo nickels,
their massive bodies pressed flat
in coins edged with grime,

banking them in mayonnaise jars
built higher with each greasy touch
massing slowly to a total
like a catacomb of bones.

Until one year our school bought
a real buffalo with huge eyes
empty as the rolling plains.
And when we'd visit his pen

each time there was less of him--
His woolly mane sloughed off in sheets.
Confinement rubbed his hide raw.
By summer he was gone,

leaving in the pen's only shade,
round and smooth as a bullet,
a slight indentation--like a pauper's grave
dug, filled and almost forgotten.


The 2River View, 2_4 (Summer 1998)