Steve Meador is the author of Throwing Percy from the Cherry Tree, a poetry book that was an entrant for a National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize in poetry. He is widely published in online and print journals. He has been a real estate broker since the early 1980s and currently lives and practices in the Tampa, FL, area.

Friday, December 10, 2010

.22 Caliber Long Rifle

I mentioned earlier (Oct. 29 post) that I hunted and trapped with my cousin, during the first two years of high school.We killed lots of animals. At the time, our veins full of male teenage flux and vinegar, it seemed the natural thing to do. We were, after all, top of the food chain and everything beneath lived at our discretion. I recall one time we were hunting squirrels and having no luck. The biggest problem was the red-headed woodpeckers. It is a noisy, raucous bird, a kind of sentry for the forest. Everywhere we walked they began a raspy squawking. To us it was annoying, to the rest of the wildlife in the woods it was a warning. After a couple hours our attention was diverted to the birds and we unloaded our guns over the next hour, until nearly 30 were killed. We were not impacted emotionally, at the time, it was just the thing to do for revenge. We stacked them into a large pile, like a stack of wood to burn, and admired our marksmanship.

I have thought about that afternoon for years. That day, along with all the other slaughter, has turned me into a man who cannot kill an earwig as it scurries across the family room floor. It gets a free trip to the nearest porch. I try to save any and every living thing I can. The woodpeckers deserve a few words, and here is another poem, which was also published, to say I regret my actions:

.22 Caliber Long Rifle

In a way it was the Wounded Knee
of 3 Acre Woods, only there was a bed
of colored leaves instead of snow and our
dead was not grotesque, but lined up
in a row.  The twenty seven red-headed
woodpeckers had not feared us.

Limestone in the creek, beyond a maze
of rotting trunks, gurgled and hissed beneath
rapid water, called for a return to sanity.
“Pretend I am flint in a flammable pool, cast
your rust upon me. I will ignite and deliver
your last sins in a scroll of flames.”

No comments:

Post a Comment