The Old Hunter

The snow changed back to freezing rain last night
bundling itself frozen to bent field grass
brittling and snapping with harsh pronouncement,
startling up some young deer, tensing splayed legs
snorting for acorns under this first snow,
more curioused by me than concerned.
They don’t remember the quiet hunter
wedged stoically in twisted apple crotch,
drenched in smokey scent and last night’s whiskey,
The awkward appendage of a clutched bow—
an awkward heir to foolish tradition.
I am more like a mawkish toothless bear,
spending my days grubbing for tubers,
singing old songs that are stuck in my head,
putting out my scent with a carelessness,
pouring myself cups of bitter coffee
before taking a nap on soft mosses.
I wake slowly to a primal stirring
and, for a moment, sense our manic bond—
the harsh uncertainty of decisions;
the inextricable predicament
of dull eyes drawn in each direction;
until I regain my brute, dumb arrogance,
the smugness of knowing I am not prey:
I only know the whispering woodsman
plodding these woods with an ineptitude,
defrocking all of the false dignities—
no longer becoming anything.
I have come so far to know so little—
satisfied the old buck is still out there.

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