~This poem was previously published in 32 Poems (2012).
Winchester .351 High-Power Self-Loading Rifle
from an ad in The American Field, 1909
It was the love which the hunter has for living things,
and which he can only express by aiming his gun at them.
Who doesn’t dream of a heart with all sights
attached, all moving parts enclosed? A love
that can shoot through steel? See how the cougar eyes
the bold word Winchester—its jagged rush—
his body, whisker-close against the cliff, unflinching.
Already he’s prey: his muscled legs like roots
too deep for springing; a pendulum stilling
for the chime of fate. Who wouldn’t lose
this skin for an instant of lightning—one
flash from the lightest, strongest, handsomest
repeater ever made? Who hasn’t gone
to a ledge like this and waited? The scent
on the wind that draws them: lover or devil,
the heart reloading even as it recoils.