creative nonfiction by Amy Zaranek
On our ride back to the old ranch headquarters, we passed a skeleton. A bison, probably killed by the winter: the bones were not yet sun-bleached enough to have spent a summer exposed. Despite its supreme insulation against cold, the hump designed to trap heat and hold muscle to plow snow was now was reduced to a comb of bone on the ground. Sinew still held on to the twisted spinal cord. Ribs lay scattered haphazardly nearby. The signature tuft of hair on top of the head now clung to the bare skull.
“When they die, we leave them out here,” Emily said as we rode past. “That way, they decompose back into the earth, the way they’re supposed to.”
I looked closer at the skull. A small wild iris sprouted beneath the skull and pushed its way past the horn.