Poaching Country

by Bethany Powell

Carlisle had avoided this road, mainly,
since the fall-turned woods on each side
once had been littered with deer legs, black trash bags.
Poachers, he’d guessed, not mindful of the leavings
that brought out the dogs and fouler things.
It was now jewel-grass spring.
He didn’t expect anyone was so bold as to poach in the wrong season.
Scout’s honor, that boundary sign hadn’t been there.
“No Trespassing” was a dare mostly.
He still felt the ghost of the felled deer,
left in dismembered shame. He could not clear them.
That’s why he took this road, today.
Testing himself—what if, one day, he turned prey,
not predator, and a rifle put a bead on him?
He couldn’t give in to the hot clang in his head
that said, turn—turn—turn and be wild.
Let your hair out, your teeth, your fleetest feet.
It’s so quiet out this way. Quiet enough
no one gets caught poaching, roadside butchering.
He could stretch and change, here, unseen, unmissed.
The ghosts of limbless deer stand, watching him decide.

Copyright © 2017 by Bethany Powell



Featured Poet of the Month Bethany Powell

Bethany Powell spent her teen years in rural Japan and now lives in rural Oklahoma. Her weird speculative poetry, including an informal series on Oklahoman shapeshifters, is only mostly fictional. Her work has recently appeared in Liminality, Through the Gate, and is forthcoming in the Sunvault Anthology of Solarpunk and Eco-Speculation. Read more at bethanypowell.com

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