One winter morning a park ranger sighed,
set aside the book he’d been reading,
and at the Montana entrance
to Yellowstone, took my money
and made change, then pointed
in the snowy distance, warning me
to take care. Minutes later
I put my car in park, turned
the radio off. The snow had stopped.
Patience, I saw, might keep me safe.
And the bison, singly or in pairs,
seemed to agree—drifting calmly
like a dream of Old West wandering,
everyone looking forward to later,
when they’d lie in the snow
and together close their eyes,
then start to snort and chuckle,
each recalling how easily the oldest
sidled up to the driver’s side
and looked me over: that big
unblinking eye double-daring me
to tap my horn, or make the mistake
of having one impatient thought
before the last bison crossing
came to a halt, shook itself all over,
and the snow went back to falling.
Strangers & Guests
Once, in a Los Angeles hotel, I saw
a woman open the door across from mine
and go in. I didn’t know it wasn’t
her room. The next morning two detectives
and an older bellhop they called Eddie
conferred outside that same door.
The guest had been out all night,
there’d been a dinner in his honor.
But hours later, in the quiet lobby,
he realized his key card was missing.
The lobby lights suddenly grew
dimmer, and he noticed that too.
By the time he knew what had happened,
the woman was long gone.
Police blamed the door’s green light:
too pretty, and too willing. I said nothing.
I was a stranger on vacation,
and she was on her way to work.
David Petruzelli is the author of Everyone Coming Toward You, which won the Tupelo Press Judge's Prize and was published in 2005. His poems have appeared in Crazyhorse, Gettysburg Review, The New Yorker, Pleiades, Southern Review, and elsewhere. He lives in New York City.