song of the hunted, a poem

Deer Runillustration song of the hunted
Song of the Hunted

(originally published in Stark Raving Sanity)

No, birds don’t worry where their next meal
comes from. Their food is everywhere, waiting
to be grabbed, devoured. Animals never fell

from the grace of simple equations, their wants
and desires are never tortured. Antelope hesitate
for a moment at the river, moist tender nostrils

sniffing the wind, but the decision to drink
is a snap compared with my dilemma. Lately,
I have gotten phone calls where the caller

hangs up without speaking. I feel fear, anger,
amusement. I know who wants my voice so badly.
He is one who won’t ever look you in the eye,

though he’ll eagerly brush against you;
a dog scenting for trouble. He is small,
high-voiced, chin delicate and unshaven.

I suppose I’ll try to keep a sense of humor
when he comes at me with the knife. Out walking
this morning, I saw him, and I almost let go

of self-protection — we approached one another
over the death-rumbling of heavy freight trucks;
long, thin sidewalk like an assembly line

pulling us together for completion, diesel exhaust
wafting through the damp air, making me dizzy
and ill. His face was immobile, stony,

looking through and past me at some ragged old image
of satisfaction I shall never discover.
As we passed side by side, I had the urge

to place my wrists together, hand over hand
in an oblique position of surrender. My ankles
had the impulse too, I wanted to dance the graceful

steps of guilty prey, I wanted to be bound
limb to limb with bloody rawhide, hung
from a thick green sapling, carried to the altar

of his mysterious desires. I imagined twirling
my limp, curving body through the air, falling,
falling at his feet in a posture of immaculate

serenity. I wanted ask: do you hate me
or do you love me? If he had answered
yes, twice, who on earth could blame him?

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