It was a walk that Wallace Stegner could enjoy.
An Upper Midwest Great Lakes island, boy and girl
and Mom and Dad, a new road through an old comity,
which might be named for someone lost and curled
around the humus, leaves, and birch bark--Madeleine.
Their talk about the Reservation and the first nationers
nearby, and bears that swim the islands just to clean
the tourists’ garbage cans, and balance of the earth and commerce.
Talk stopped, though, at the bubble-gum green and finger-paint blue
snake in the road, still and shimmerless, beside the tire
track, insides turned out, not even close
to what they saw before that day--a thing alive.
One look was all the boy allowed himself; the father took
the chance to talk about the gift of death for all the rest,
and balance, too; but the girl clung to her mother and shook,
nakedly weeping, without any shame, for an innocent’s death.