Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Buck Stops For No One

A big visiting orange cat
making himself at home
lies in the windowsill
looking out through the screen
surveying serenely the latest woodscape
of his newest personal domain
then quickly stands up

backs carefully onto the shelves
staring intently with respect
at a tall full-grown buck

with impressive autumn antlers
picking his way slowly and quietly
with ballet delicacy
as only a giant can
as if tip-toeing on hard hooves
through the gravel and this year's leaves
passing within ten feet from the cottage.

With his magnificent brawny presence
and inextinguishable will
if he had chosen to he could have
easily ripped through the screen
with two or three shakes
of pointed bone antlers
inserting himself violently
into my indoor mundanity
but instead moves forward
into the late morning 
probably one-half to two days
ahead of the loose band of coyotes
tracing his scent.

His instinct is to lead them by the nose
into an extended improvised maze
of trees, hills, creeks, flood plains, and roads
until they become frustrated or distracted.

Within the next few days
maybe today
I will take a leisurely walk
in the direction he was heading
watch the dirt for cloven divots
and scan for antler scuffs
on tree bark about chest high
till the signs reach the creek
at which point I will linger
on a limestone boulder
watch the shallow flow
and wonder what terrain I'd follow
if I were a magnificent buck

Pocketing a smooth bleached rock
I'd rise to return home
a slightly different route
than the way I had come
passing along the way
the rounded hump of ground
I'd built with a dozen nearby rocks
and covered with small fallen branches
that is the cairn that by now shelters
only the eroded bones, teeth, and hooves
of a beautiful long-dead doe
that my dogs had happily discovered
to my fascination and horror
one surprising Sunday morning

If orange cat walks with me
as he usually does
he will no doubt step up
to the top of the cairn dome
look up the tall white sycamores
and leaning long black willows
for suitable branches of safe repose
from which he could proudly survey
the verdant and versatile flood plain
this innocent killing ground
before padding down the mound
and returning home
lagging behind me
at his own sweet pace.

Larry Piltz
November 21, 2010
Indian Cove

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