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Twenty-eight Elk Drown After Falling Through Ice

by Calvin Olsen

at Lucky Peak Reservoir,
January 2004.
The ice is thick enough to stand
the weight of a few, if far
between (strength in numbers
remains dependent on strategy).
Herds plunge into the water
year after year, beating their way
to the shoreline with their hooves.
However, a particularly bitter
season of snowfall condensed the ice,
rendering it unbreakable.
Somewhere between instinct and panic,
hypothermia set in, lethargically killing
them as a full moon clung to the spillway.
From the cliffs the frozen tomb
looks like a muddy footprint, toe pointed
toward the highway, corpses lining
the perimeter—the only evidence
that providence lies buried somewhere
underneath 28,800 acre-feet2
of recreational water storage.
They’re still there,
floating bloated in the Idaho
They’ll bob all afternoon, but
overnight the surface water
freezes, solidifying
each carcass a little farther away
from the others, like continents.

Calvin Olsen is a senior majoring in English with a minor in Portuguese. He started writing poetry as a junior in college, fell in love with it, and plans to go after an MFA in creative writing. His work has been rejected by numerous literary magazines, including AGNI and Poetry.