The canyon the river ran through was bowl shaped & you could see from the water sometimes sheep on its rim. Our boat noise would collect in one wall and spill over the ledge of the next. That must’ve been what happened—a jet ski, for example, cutting through the middle of the gorge can sound like a gun going off—the elk caught the ricocheting of blared engine, thought it was a hunter, jumped for the river & missed. Their twenty-seven bodies formed a triangle of hide and bone. Some parts preserved under water. Half a leg or a smashed face like bees I’ve seen in tree sap. There was little we could do to move them. They accumulated trash—sunglasses, Dorito bags, disposable cameras—what people dropped photographing themselves next to the mess. Locals started calling it Elk Splat. We’d shovel through with litter grabbers, knocking maggots into the river, holding shirts halfway up our heads. Whoever’d spooked the elk was the kind of person we liked to imagine as one rich kid. What we were better than. Fucking rich kids slicing the reservoir in half. Who else would kill an elk and leave the antlers. How could you not think to freeze all those years of good meat.
Taneum Bambrick is a recent graduate of the MFA program at the University of Arizona where she received the Academy of American Poets Prize. She serves as an Associate Editor for Narrative Magazine. Her work appears in Academy of American Poets, Crab Creek Review, Cutbank Online, The Nashville Review, New Delta Review, and Cloud Rodeo. She teaches English at Central Washington University.