This freezing evening is perfect for a good, fruitful hunt. My broadheads are sharp, perfect points, my bow hangs in wait, my shaking limbs have ceased their tremors for I am ready for venison, for backstrap, for chili, for tacos — for the freest of wild game.
Hours tick by and as the squirrels toy with my fraying emotions, convincing me they are a coat-racked buck, a fat doe, a creature far larger than their two pounds, I fall into a slumber — a poetic one.
Used to this sort of fitful, literary tree stand nap, I awake with a start and begin to jot down all I had seen, heard and felt. Stanzas eerily similar to those of Mr. John Keats rise from the depths but the words do not talk to nightingales and death, they preach of the hunt, life, and beauty:
Ode to a Nightingale Squirrel
Penned by the Writing Huntress (with a little, ghostly help from Mr. Keats)
My hands ache, and a freezing numbness pains;
My expectations, as though of deer desperation I had drunk,
Or emptied some pungent doe estrus to the lanes
Five hours past, and deer activity had sunk:
‘Tis not through envy of your happy lot,
But being too overjoyed in my unhappiness,
That thou, fluffy tailed Dryad of the trees,
In some mischievous plot,
Of barren branches, and shadows numberless,
Chatters of my failure in full-throated ease.
O, for a draught of Gatorade! that hath been
Cool’d in the freezer-burned fridge,
Tasting of glaciers and the country green,
Line dance, and country song, and dirt-covered bridge!
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the clear moonshine,
With beaded corn bubbles lazing at the brim,
And my green camo-stained mouth;
That I might hunt, and leave my world for thine,
And with you, squirrel, fly into the forest dim:
Fly far away, dissolve, and never forget
What you, silly squirrel, among the leaves, has never known:
The bone weariness, the buck fever, and the empty-tag fret.
Here, where hunters sit and hear deer groan;
Where ghosts of hunts past shake a few, memorable, last gray hairs,
Where youth grows strong, and wild-game thick, and thrives;
Here, where to think is to be full awe,
Of wonder, of changed lives.
Thou was not born for death, immortal squirrel!
No hungry huntress shall hack thee down;
The thwack of arrow breaking ribs wasn’t heard
But to waste a broadhead on you, I’d be the clown:
Perhaps I should return down that path-
Through the flat heart of North Dakota, then for home,
I’ll stand in tears amid the hewn corn;
Knowing no deer, once again, hath I.
No venison! the very phrase is like a bell
To bring me back from your squirrely world to my old self!
Tonight, the hungry hunter will not eat so well,
As she is famished now, you- the deceiving, flying elf.
Till next time, you sad huntress!-Your plaintive chatter fades
Past the olive Jeep, the still plains, over the empty stream,
Up the hill-side; and now ’tis buried deep
In the next valley-glades:
Does the buck now call?—Do I shoot him or sleep?
Was it all a mirage, or a wishful dream?