Cover Photo: James Loesch
James Loesch

Search and Rescue

“How, so fast, do they find her—nature’s homely helpers?”

A climber fell to her death today from a chalky face in the Rockies. Rush hour, happy hour, dusk among the cities of the plains.

She lay with her face to the sky. As though an offering. Patch of bright. A broken parakeet.  

White fleck of a jet descending. The picker-uppers—quick with the news—clairvoyant or just plain lucky.

These free climbers, the woman, that boy on El Cap—they must move with the mind of another. Free climb, free to fall. Don’t think of it.

Did she think, as she fell, with a buffalo’s mind—tumbling, no more, once a pishkun, driven into the sun?   

No more. Here’s to you. It’s your birthday. We search and search and rescue. Feeble-sighted. Slow.

So how, so fast, do they find her—nature’s homely helpers? By the eye, is it, by the nose?

By the look of the balding white man, the Lakota supposed: scavengers. By the smell.  Feeding on the rotting meat of their sweet-faced cows.

No thumbs—what the African once thought of the white man. Imagine that this is so.  Had been so. What changes? Colt .45, etcetera.

By the time the kind boys from search and rescue arrive, the woman is eaten clean.  Sounds a little grim, but really? Why not let them carry you, flesh of your flesh, brainy heads, into the indigo heavens?

Tongue of bright foam is the stream. Lift of the wind, a slow ascent. To you, my life.  Splendid.

Noy Holland’s debut novel, Bird, is now available from Counterpoint. Her collections of short fiction and novellas include Swim for the Little One First (FC2), What Begins with Bird (FC2), and The Spectacle of the Body (Knopf.) She has published work in The Kenyon Review, ConjunctionsThe Believer, NOON, and New York Tyrant, among others. She was a recipient of a Massachusetts Cultural Council award for artistic merit and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. She has taught for many years in University of Massachusetts.