“Goodbye, my son”
said the old bison
to his beloved calf.
“Worry not, I shall return”
He reassured him with a laugh.
Then with a mighty heave,
He turned to leave
For the ancient mountain road.
He was setting out in search
Of the holy bison code.
The sacred code of his people,
Dwelled within a mountain steeple
Somewhere far into the west
Where only the bravest
Dared make the quest.
“But, Papa, I’m scared!”
The young calf blared
“It’s cold out there and wet.
Can’t you stay a while longer?
Please, don’t leave just yet.”
But the calf’s faint wail
Had been caught by a gale,
And his words were blown far north.
So, he sadly stared at Papa
Who’d gone boldly marching forth.
“A humble pilgrim now am I”
Papa snorted with a sigh
As he trudged amidst the snow.
A great journey lay before him
Beyond the sunset’s glow.
Papa roamed across the plains
Conviction burning in his veins
As he pushed through mud and frost.
His hooves grew sore
And his mane, wind-tossed.
Papa struggled over crags and tail,
Ever onward, through sleet and hail.
He hiked along Sawtooth Ravine
Whose frozen lake
Caught the moon’s pale sheen.
Papa wore a driven fashion
Warding off a creeping passion
To simply turn around.
But with his stubborn pace
The bison’s fate was bound.
Step by step, Papa marched on,
Only stopping to watch the dawn.
And when, at last, he spied the peak
Of the sacred shrine
A lone tear fell from his cheek.
In all his life, he never believed
That this crusade could be achieved.
Yet there he was, proudly standing
At the rocky foot
Of the mountain’s landing.
Then Papa scaled great steps of ice
With fatigue shaking him more than twice.
Cresting the top, with aching bones
He conceded to rest
On nearby stones.
Papa relaxed against a heap,
Wanting desperately to fall asleep
When, all at once, the rocks came apart
Exposing a passage
To the mountain’s heart.
As Papa cautiously snuck inside
Jagged walls scraped his hide.
A putrid air met his nose
The source of which
He dared not suppose.
The heavy fall of Papa’s gait
Carried him further down cold slate
Into the murk of a solemn room
Which Papa took
For the shrine’s old tomb.
Great bison skulls lined the aisles
Staring at Papa with horrid smiles
This eerie display of kindred death
Made Papa tremble
With shallow breath.
“Wherefore comes such a burial place?”
Papa growled with a knotted face
He scanned the room with tired eyes
And was shocked to find
His long-sought-for prize.
Spread across an unkept altar
Lay the famous parchment psalter.
Papa approached with cautious fright
To read from the code
And unravel this sight.
But when Papa’s study was concluded
He realized he’d been deluded
The code he had pined for was a lie:
“All bison drawn here
Are condemned to die.”
“Deranged elders of an ancient clan
Years ago devised a plan
To use this mountain as their snare
And slaughter rovers
In violent prayer.”
While those words rolled off his tongue
A deadly trap was quickly sprung.
Hidden ropes soon grew taught
And in a flash
His legs were caught.
Papa started kicking and sweating
Desperately trying to escape the netting.
But, lurid blades then shot from a wall
And carved his flesh
With a razor-sharp squall.
Papa dangled above the floor
His body sopping with blood and gore.
He gasped for breath one final time
And was able to mutter
“Oh, son, I’m –”
But his lungs gave out as he cried
And soon enough Papa died.
His body grew pale and cold;
As his bones were added
To the Hall of the Bold.
Ross Destiche is a graduate of the University of MN, with a BFA in Acting. Originally from Minneapolis, he currently lives in the Washington DC area as a professional actor and poet. Ross will find inspiration for his work at the most inconvenient of times, most often just before sleep. Other published pieces can be found at Miller’s Pond, The Legendary, and BlogNostics. His professional website is rossdestiche.com.