White Buffalo

Andrew Eaton

          Makassar prison camp, 1944

When men here talk about the white buffalo
they speak as if a spirit moved across the bank

lowering its head for a drink from the river
casually. It makes me think of an apple bucket

draining juices through its slats. Some nights,
I want to hear her tail swing, see it bless flies

the way a woman in a tent might wave

a wand of sage smoke, warm around my face

as though this is why I had come so far,

to listen to her words, the sound of weather. I lie

as I did last night, I sink between my arms

on the hard wood of the cold bunk. What happens

in the darkness sends her legging from the clearing—
mud clumps, the closed eyelids of her hooves flung up.