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Landscape, Portrait
     In response to "The Herder" by Lenny Foster
by Jane Lin

First the snow stippling the mountains and
canvassing the land. The herder with a lance,
one dark feather cinched below the blade.

Or the ancestral land, first into creation, the low sun
casting a shadow dialed to the running herd.
The blue tint of clouds darkening the distance.

Or the eye drawn to humped masses in blurred motion.
Bison restored to pueblo land—nurtured, not tamed.
The herder wrapped in a thin blanket, cradling a lance.

Or how the lone figure introduces story,
and the unbleached blanket over the head, back
forever facing us, renders the story unknowable.

First the photo, the artist catalyzing the moment
that persists like a freeze, packs into crevices
in the soles of our shoes. Our gaze is his gaze is

the herder's gaze—a simultaneity stretched like a hide.
Feel how it came from something alive.


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