William Doreski. The Scarcity of Antlers.

2 Oct

THE SCARCITY OF ANTLERS

Gunshots in the woods at dawn.
In the diner, men brag of killing
does with single shots although
the carcasses slumped in their pickups
ooze from multiple wounds.
My bravest moment haunts me:
a story I can’t repeat without
my skin crawling off and hiding.
At seventeen working per diem
on a farm, I faced a concrete
silo a hundred feet tall.
The long conveyor had jammed
at the top, so I had to climb
steel rungs set in the concrete
and free the chute. One-handed,
without considering the drop
lurking behind me, I worked it free
and descended. If I’d lost
my one-handed grip I’d’ve dropped
backwards the full hundred feet
and smashed open like a gourd.

The waitress pours coffee and asks
how meaty and cruel a breakfast
I’d like. Maybe just a muffin.
The hunters rumble like machines.
Their laughter makes short work of men
like me, whose honest fears scar
like shaving cuts. Once a year
or so, I drive past that silo
where my carcass still lies rotting
in the tall grass and the rusted
steel rungs gloat. I’d stop and pray
over that broken ego
if I knew which god to pray to.
Buttering my muffin distracts me
long enough to recover my nerve.
I look around the diner
and catch those tough guys cringing

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