Hunting the Mitchell Property


            There is more here

than I expected. Mud from fallow fields

cakes thick, my boots clay-heavy

as I stalk the Park River,

slough and slurry of irrigation

and drainage channels. The deer are thick,

scat and rub, shed antler velvet like moss

on the low choke-cherry.

Cross the river at the bone-bleached

deadfall. Once, a wagon broke down

or a man said, here. Homesteads

mushroomed. How much of survival is luck?

            The noon whistle at Hoople,

another at Crystal. Men and women

shuffle out, suffer the day,

smoke-break and lunch pail.

            Where the river crosses under County 12,

the beavers make their dams

and Dick Mitchell unmakes them,

shovel and shotgun, to keep

his basement from flooding.

            In one field, three does browse

scrap corn cobs, a poached buck

thirty feet away, the hunter long gone.

Feast for fox and crow.

Another field horseshoes

an old homestead, timbers

collapsed, but the roof intact.


Near the deadfall, a blue heron

wobbles overhead, long wings crush air.

            Come summer, that field will be corn,

and on quiet nights, when the crickets die down,

you will hear the language of corn,

and other prayers for sustenance.


published in Red Rock Review, 22.1 (2008).