belt buckle he slouched
by a driveway I shovel
caretaker. He told me his
Life story how things hadn’t
out right when his family
to the woods, hiking
— and by the way, long hair
his eyes — could he cross our
down river where most of the
lumber to his bridge was salvaged —
heard it was best to ask me first.
polite, both of them
killed a deer on our land.
hunter needs to use the phone,
other one doesn’t want to retrace
hike through the woods
his car. Could I drive them back?
same place we buried our old dog
spring these two hunters have
an 8-point buck down the
slope and gut it right there.
course they didn’t know anything
the dog and when I came upon
they stood rubber boots
blood, guts matted on snow.
left no sign or blood when we buried
dog. Dropped a pine tree and buried
under the boughs, head at the stump.
rotted. Now one of the young hunters
washing his big knife off in the brook
behind us. His balding head is
with sweat, sweater blood smeared —
tags the deer with a rip into the
leg, shows me where they shot it
times. They still don’t know where
are, so I point them to the road.
car with the engine running,
rolled open, and Everett
by the roadside in the
wet shadow of his home-made
munching on a cigarette stub
a late afternoon rain.
is leaving the valley. There is
For Sale sign hammered into his
lawn above the retaining
wall I built for him long ago.
can remember how we cruised the
road in his dusty pickup truck
the walls that nobody seemed
own because no one was around.
owns land in this
— now a dog and home are
1000 feet — the same
trail of a porcupine
I wave to six new neighbors.
still hasn’t lost his
smile and he knows I
what he is thinking but
don’t say anything except we do
this rain as it soaks his green
shirt, and nearby the familiar
from heaped manure drains
to the brook. That water
tasted like cold stone shade
I would haul it to my cabin every
day — then Everett moved in and
a farmer comes manure and in that
barn he gave me water from his tap.
other man on this road ever gave
water from his tap or stood talking
the privacy of rain or paid me one
to cut his winter load of firewood
his back was lame and there was
no one else around to ask.
O N C E I N V E R M O N T