STATEMENT ON HIGHER EDUCATION
Lifting, both hands pulling whitely.
How did Hoppy do it one-handed every Saturday?
Grandpa cocks it: tic tic.
Blinking like a startled lizard
in some green rain cobweb swamp
I squeeze, and shake, and squeeze.
I am deaf, floating on my skinny back
in choking swirls of bark and burnt powder.
". . . it it."
I'm up on one elbow, blurring.
Dad's there, by the stump, laughing.
"Be goddamned, he hit it."
And as he points out the neat, off-center hole,
as he laughs the very last laugh I remember him laughing,
I brush my watery eyes, and breathe.
for Ron Lampard, Nisqually
We learned that you don't shoot
things that are wiser than yourself:
cranes, crippled bear, mountain beaver, toads.
We learned that a hunter who doesn't eat his game
is a traitor and should wander the earth,
We learned to fish the shadow side of creeks
and to check traps every morning before the dew lifts.
It is a kindness in our savagery
that we leaned to owe our prey
a clean death and an honorable end.
We learned from our game
to expect to be eaten when we die,
learned that our fathers
learned all this before us.
Because of this you are brother
to cranes, mountain beaver, toads and me.
And to one old crippled bear
that neither of us will ever see.