They piled up mammoth bones
to make the wall: backbones,
leg bones, tusks, ribs
around their camp in the plain.
To keep out enemies, said his father,
to slow the wind, said his mother,
answering their boy
who drew figures with a pointed stick,
didn’t like to hunt.
When the last tusk was placed,
the enclosure completed,
he saw his own reason:
framed by the chalky pile, pines
revealed green-spiked angles,
footprints their design in snow
the old skull that weighted
the door-flap of his uncle’s hut
one blunted tooth
standing out among sharper teeth,
a boney ridge each eye socket—
everything jumping into focus,
in the cloudy sweep of sky and land.
—Sue Chenette, Toronto, Ontario, Canada