voices out of the West, mostly poetry, personal to planetary...

Claudia Putnam

Glenwood Springs, Colorado


Fiction writer & poet, Claudia frequently writes about the world and the creatures she sees outside her windows and encounters while hiking and skiing. Her chapbook, Wild Thing in Our Known World, is available from Finishing Line Press.

3 by Claudia Putnam




I saw you floating through snow

light as the snowshoe hare

who in terror leapt before you.


I miss that snow and the winds

it came in on. The work it made:

the hungering woodstove,


driveway shoveling, the daily ski

from my door to your mountain.

The storm blue of the spruce.


They said you were extinct then,

not yet reintroduced. But

I saw you; you looked straight at me.





Dear mother, I am sorry it was we three

who stood round and prayed,

while the eyes of your little one

glazed and you were barred

by the road, by your terror

even of us. We could only hope


our coos sounded like those

all mothers make, our tender

touches the strokes all mothers

use to soothe even those

wounds we know God

averts his own eyes from.


Dear mother, some small things

are carried through desperate

months, are borne in agony

into lovely green springs,

dance into dappled sunlight,

only to die a hard metal death.


We three women who stopped,

who carried your little one,

still thrashing, to the grass,

who bloodied our hands and our skirts,

and waited till her pain was gone,

we knew yours was not.


We too are animals, dear mother.




Before It’s Gone

(Rocky Mountain National Park, June)


Just past this last, dusty scab

the tundra rolls open,

lichen-green, flowered blue and yellow.

Elk, newly ascended, paralleling

our turns as if our joy were theirs.

Ladybugs riding our sleeves,

our hair. We’re suspended

within a thorny crown: the Indian

Peaks, the Never Summer Range,

still guarding small glaciers.



Sunburn. Whisper of rivulets

beneath the snow:


better hurry.


Sweat down our backs

like the chuckling meltwater,

one boot kicking above

the other, eighteen hundred

steps to the top of America,

sun glinting on relentless cars,

on our Jeep at the pullover.

Skis strapped to our packs,

we vault from the boulder field.

Startled tourists snap photos


as if we were wildlife. is a non-commercial project, an online anthology, to share a poetic vision of the land we love.

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