On The Edge1963In borrowed boots which don't fitand an old olive greatcoat,I hunt the corn-fed rabbit,game fowl, squirrel, starved bobcat,anything small. I bring downyoung deer wandered from the doe'sgaze, and reload, and move onleaving flesh to inform crows.At dusk they seem to suspectme, burrowed in a corn fieldverging their stream. The unpeckedstalks call them. Nervous, they yieldto what they must: hunger, thirst,habit. Closer and closercomes the scratching which at firstsounds like sheaves clicked together.I know them better than theythemselves, so I win. At nightthe darkness is against me.I can't see enough to sightmy weapon, which becomes freightto be endured or at besta crutch to ease swollen feetthat demand but don't get restunless I invade your barn,which I do. Under my darkcoat, monstrous and vague, I turndown your lane, float through the yard,and roost. Or so I appearto you who call me spiritor devil, though I'm neither.What's more, under all, I'm whiteand soft, more like yourself thanyou ever would have guessed beforeyou claimed your barn with shot gun,torch, and hounds. Why am I here?What do I want? Who am I?You demand from the blank maskwhich amuses the dogs. Leave me!I do your work so why ask?
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