First Deer Hunt

by Tom Meyer

We waited for morning at the edge of a clearing
under a tree jacketed in ice, gloves frozen
round the black icicle barrel of a 30-30.
The whole forest brittle with waiting.         Cocked
and ready to explode into light.

I remembered reading the Shooter’s Bible under covers,
savoring favorite passages from the books of Remington
and Winchester with their calibers and muzzle velocities,
memorizing the grim scripture of lung shots
and “Thou shalt kills” and coveting it all.

The night before, my brother and I
took turns poking a fire into life,
the patriarchs in flannel plaid, laughing around a large
coffee table cluttered with Straub bottles and card hands,
hearts pooling under the losers.

Killing is as easy as it looks in any video game,
as easy as a finger flick, I knew.
But not that morning:
following snowflakes with the scope –
watching the sun rise in each one.

Tom Meyer is a syndicated editorial cartoonist who moved to Asheville, North Carolina, a year ago. During a Knight Fellowship at Stanford in 2005-06, he rediscovered a passion for poetry and looks forward to delving into a different, more hopeful form of truth telling.