Hunting Season by Charlene James-Duguid
A solitary hunter, of single intent,
Perched in a tree stand
Watching the morning break. Cold,
but warm-hearted, knowing
He can feed his family for another year.
Disturbing the calm, roosting turkeys
Start a chatter, hell-bent on being heard,
Grabbing attention from the squirrels,
They take center stage.
He wonders if they will stop
Alarming the prey.
Incessant in piercing conversation,
As if their squabbling
Kept the earth on track.
The noise penetrating his brain
More powerful than the winter hoar.
Annoying this stalwart,
This man among men,
Defender, provider, hunter,
Following the ways of his
Hands cupping his ears,
He shouts at them
“Stop, stop it, you’re driving me nuts.”
Crazed, he considers shooting a few
Out of season.
Up and down in the pine perches
To the ground and back,
Distraction for anyone less-skilled,
Less-committed to providing for his kin.
Their talking, back and forth, never ends.
Ready to let them have it,
He aims at one in dominant display.
Feathers spread in noble grandeur.
He stops as they stop.
Suddenly on cue, they bring back
Quiet, as if concerned for the hunter’s
Need to succeed, to fill his larder with venison.
The communal conscience of these bright fowl
Takes over, spilling avian love into human survival.
Drawn into their silence,
He sees the doe, one of the millions overrunning
The land, possessing the forests
In search of dwindling grass.
Sighting at one, another comes into view.
He knows shooting the first-day’s trophies
Means a family’s contentment.
The two white tails move in a sea of amber and brown.
He shoots once. Twice. Downs them both.
Now the birds begin their encore,
New, different music to his ears.
Well-earned symphonic concertizing
Set in the cold, grey dawn.
The snow begins, he leaves the hiding place,
Descends from the tree,
Begins the real work, gutting the deer.
Relieved, he invites the feathered strains.
A smile breaks out in his eyes,
A whistle of syncopation in his voice,
A grateful nod to his winged friends
For knowing when to stop their turkey talk.