Griz by Lowell Jaeger Narrow trail twists through neck-high thickets of alders and hellebore, climbs onward around a blind turn, and there he is: big hunk of shaggy brown griz, stopped in his tracks, nose in the air, sniffing intruders’ sweat wafting suddenly too near. Three of us and one of him, sufficient heft on his bones to bulldoze forward if he chooses, mulling this over as he rocks on his forelegs, hulking shoulders flexing side to side. Nothing to rescue us but precious little time, as we step back, slowly, the way we came, savvy enough to not stare at him head-on. Careful not to shuffle wrong and stumble. Outcome could be one account or another. And now he’s looming above us, continuing past, as we wait meekly, downhill side, scant yards off-trail. He’s god of where he wants to go. Our silence is a kind of weak-kneed prayer.
Lowell Jaeger (Montana Poet Laureate 2017-2019) is founding editor of Many Voices Press, author of seven collections of poems, recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Montana Arts Council, and winner of the Grolier Poetry Peace Prize. Most recently Jaeger was awarded the Montana Governor’s Humanities Award for his work in promoting thoughtful civic discourse.