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Small Game Analysis

Author: poem of Philip Levine Type: poem Views: 9

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In borrowed boots which don't fit

and an old olive greatcoat,

I hunt the corn-fed rabbit,

game fowl, squirrel, starved bobcat,

anything small. I bring down

young deer wandered from the doe's

gaze, and reload, and move on

leaving flesh to inform crows.

At dusk they seem to suspect

me, burrowed in a corn field

verging their stream. The unpecked

stalks call them. Nervous, they yield

to what they must: hunger, thirst,

habit. Closer and closer

comes the scratching which at first

sounds like sheaves clicked together.

I know them better than they

themselves, so I win. At night

the darkness is against me.

I can't see enough to sight

my weapon, which becomes freight

to be endured or at best

a crutch to ease swollen feet

that demand but don't get rest

unless I invade your barn,

which I do. Under my dark

coat, monstrous and vague, I turn

down your lane, float through the yard,

and roost. Or so I appear

to you who call me spirit

or devil, though I'm neither.

What's more, under all, I'm white

and soft, more like yourself than

you ever would have guessed before

you 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 mask

which amuses the dogs. Leave me!

I do your work so why ask?


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