A Small Meatloaf

              (for Mark Strand)

Half-baked on the flat sheet,
moist and raw within, bright red
at the core—like the chef, heat
radiating from his hands:
he dreads the work ahead.

Phone calls are mere devices
to insert asides, like so much garnish.
The voice on the other end says,
Remember the process and taste as you go. It’s bland.
Forget the recipe, this sheet, that plate. Focus on the dish.

Behind Blacktail Butte, Wyoming

Bison: dozens.
Rumbling moans.
They graze on brown
grasses and snort and low
as travelers in cars point, openmouthed,
frozen on the road—
as if dropped into a painting
from …