The oxbow river sparkling and gurgling below,
A tiny red squirrel flitting along the forest floor
On the road, a hundred yards away
through oaks and pines, dead and alive,
a truck pulling an empty trailer along
the poorly patched asphalt. I could go on and on.
These are things worth paying
attention to, living in the woods as you do,
alone now but for the tentative deer
and the masked raccoons and the memory
of a hungry mother bear and three cubs,
who tried to dine at the garbage can one night.
Note the silence of the rifle you’ve used
since you were sixteen, a living gift from Dad.
The action is smooth with the metal smell of oil,
the gun leaning against the wall, within quick reach.
That silence is crying of what you fear to find,
and of those things you’ve been willing to survive.
Chuck Larson, a UW-Eau Claire alum, was born and raised in the Chippewa Valley. He is a former editor of None Of The Above (NOTA), the UWEC creative arts magazine (1988-90). His poetry has appeared in NOTA, Upriver4 and Volume One. He enjoys playing chess and volunteering with the Washburn County Humane Society. He currently resides in Minong, Wisconsin.