November 7, 2013

R.T. Smith

CERVINE OCCURRENCE

Dressed in leaf green in our blind
we could drink only water. My father

said a sharp buck could smell any other
substance for miles. I was hungry

for biscuits swabbed with butter,
but he promised I’d learn to savor

the hunter’s breakfast that follows
a clean kill—eggs over easy,

sourdough rolls and more
sausage than any wolf could wolf

down. We sat so still we might be ivy
or buckbrush. “Keep your safety

on,” he said. “When the red spot shows,
you are deadly.”

I had slipped my one chilly bullet
into the chamber. Why would I want

to end the life of any sleek creature
who was not my enemy?

But this was man work, and my
school friends already spoke

about the loud crack and blow
to the shoulder, hot blood on the cheek

and the smile photo after.
I had sworn in silence I would refuse

to squeeze that trigger,
but then between my rifle and never

ever the deer stepped and fell.

from Rattle #39, Spring 2013
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