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).