PORTRAIT OF MY GRANDFATHER AS A STILL-HUNTER

He watches his breath
it’s just after daybreak
icy quiet here where he sits
on a stump with a back
like a nature-made chair
masses of light brown leaves
grey on grey
brown on brown
the man’s pale blue shirt
the grey metal of the gun
his eyes peering about
moving his neck as little
as possible — still-hunting
on a Saturday before Christmas
1938, trying to get some extra meat
for the stew Odessa’s gonna make

maybe a wild turkey if he’s lucky
but he hears no turkeys

he looks up at the sky
above the leafless skirl
of up-reaching limbs into
another grayness and there
are — he raises the .22 —
he hears his breath, holds —
two squirrels inching
along a strong unwavering
pine limb
tails a-twitch
one about to drop
headless & dead
as the sound cracks
across the valley
echoing against
the Devil’s Gap

Odessa, washing vegetables
back at the cabin, smiles faintly
at the distant gunshot

Chris’mas might be alright this year.
Where did those boys run off to?
Another crack of gunfire
Another smile
She dries her hands
and stands looking out
the front door

It might be alright

© 2019 Thomas N. Dennis

mtmitchell (2015_05_29 03_22_48 UTC)

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