This is dedicated to my family, especially to those who've passed away: Uncle Mike, Uncle Pete, and cousin Bruce--Stick Stephens himself. Oh, how I miss them and can't wait to see them again.
Deer Hunting on Uncle Mike’s Farm
Lounging comfortably on the cool earth,
My back resting against the perfectly curved trunk of a grand White Pine,
A pump 12-gauge shotgun sitting across my legs,
My seat a thick carpet of soft, fragrant needles.
The rich, fresh scent overwhelms my nose,
A sigh escapes, a smile plays across my face.
The sky, dark and foreboding this morning,
Has cleared to a brilliant, blinding blue,
Though my view is all but blocked by branches.
(replete with coffee, sandwiches, homemade cookies, and laughter)
Time to sit until dark, quiet, unmoving,
Hoping for but dreading what I hope will and won’t happen.
In the distance to my left I hear the occasional lowing of contented cows.
Straight ahead, high on a hill across the valley,
Barely visible through the newly leafless trees,
Is my great uncle Mike piling up firewood
In preparation for the coming winter.
The rhythmic clicking of log against log is my lullaby;
I drowse in and out of sleep as the dappled sunlight warms my face and soul.
In the lovely woods all around me are my family
—dad, uncle, brother, cousins—
Alert for movement.
Hoping to slay the biggest buck.
The sun drops near the tree line.
A squirrel barks overhead.
The air, bereft of light, chills.
I fish my toboggan,
Blaze orange, crocheted by the precious hands of my mom,
From my coat pocket and pull it down over my ears.
The damp, cold ground filters through the needles,
My bum has grown numb.
Almost time to call it a day.
Peanut butter and jelly on white bread,
Dunked into steaming bowls of spicy venison chili,
Wait at home, warm and welcoming.
I think but would never say aloud,
Please God, don’t let a deer come by.