Day Hike after Hunting Season
John Popielaski

            I come to you
            lost, wholly trusting, as a man who goes
            into the forest unarmed.
            --Wendell Berry, “The Country of Marriage”

In these woods where missiles hid
in silos, starched men watched
for anything remotely
Soviet on radar screens
and tensed when they saw geese.

It will not do to comment wryly
on the fear that built this
hunkered place and cast
what denned here elsewhere, fencing
out what watered here, what fed,
what passed this way I come,
unarmed, alone, a line
from “Ozymandias” remembered.

Forty years ago the Army boxed
the big computers, towed
the pinioned Nikes out at night,
and left the chain-link gate
unlocked, unguarded,
the receding headlights soon
too distant to illuminate
this concrete and these woods.

I am a slight intrusion by
comparison, a breach in this
recovered peace, a wrong thing
in this picture, but I go
the way fresh deer tracks pressed
in thawed mud seem to tell
my inner refugee to go.

Return to Spring 2010 Table of Contents