My Achy Breaky Heart
5000BC. Bones litter the pockmarked route of the wooly buffalo, a depression worn by the hoofbeats of millennia, tracking back and forth along a ridge in search of the savory. The decadent. The singular.
That tangy burn on a lolling pink tongue after days of rising and falling, climbing and descending, walking and running. Weaving through fat trees, looming higher than sideswiped mammal eyes can discern. Shifting along hard, flaky rock and soil seeped in red, tinged with the blood of the untold ones who fell, slipped through a gash in the Earth to remake time.
Their symphonic breathing makes the wind flutter the leaves on the trees. Unseen bones mingled with crushed stone to form the heart of the soil. Traces of them remain in the burst of a flower. The fan of a leaf. The trickle of water running over rock.
The buffalo passed it all on its tear through the forest, its lazy up and down over miles. Over bones. Over acres. Over whole domains.
Did the buffalo and their need for salt make the Natchez Trace, thousands of years ago? Legend believes they ran in herds, craving the brackish bottoms around present-day Nashville. Their fix of white powder procured, they pounded back along the spine of the Trace to fan out around the undulating plains of Mississippi.
I saw their remnants in a bleached cow skull.
A scattered set of deer bones.
A skinny white piece of decay that popped from the muck and the rock along the Old Trace.
Their syncopated exhale cooled my sweaty face. Blasted eons across the top of a rise. Made the metronomic pace of the steps my feet took.
Walking in their ghostly footsteps in the shimmering shade.