A family of deer appeared on the neighbor’s property.
My nephews strung their bows.
One had a crossbow; the other’s looked like a strut off a bridge,
elaborate, articulated, modern with pulleys.
They lined up all their arrows with different heads
and colored fletching, yellow-green and orange,
on the hood of their truck,
and set their bow stands steady on the grass,
and marshaled abilities learned in the army
to make the best tactical formation.
They waited on the four deer, two does grown
and two younger, and talked quietly,
earnestly about the deer, drinking,
deciding which would be the best one to take.
They consulted— again— their Google research page
on the proper place to put an arrow in a deer:
behind the shoulder where the liver, the heart,
and the lungs all clustered, and pulsed its blood.
If a deer should jump the fence, it would be in the legal target zone
my nephews had established on my brother’s property.
The boys’ wives came out from my brother’s house
and talked with them sotto voce, with their eyes
avidly on the deer, and smiled at the prospect of an easy kill.
The deer ignored them and walked around cropping grass
on their side, drifting closer, twenty, fifteen, ten yards away.
The wives went back in the house to let it happen.
My brother came out then and walked gravely
to the truck, and stood among the arrayed arrows.
“Your mother says you can’t kill a deer here today.
She says, ‘There are kids and people coming over,
and you can’t shoot and clean an animal.’”
My nephews protested to my brother, their father,
who had taught them to shoot, after all,
when they were children,
and he looked down on the grass and said, “Look,
I’m telling you, if you shoot a deer you’ll have Hell to pay.
You’ll upset your mother. You want to make your mother angry,
go shoot the deer.” They both looked chastened.
“I sure don’t want to make Mom mad,” said the younger.
So they stood down, and left off stalking the deer—
who moved anyway to the far side
of the neighbor’s clearing, and into the woods, and were lost—
and shot their arrows at a foam target cube instead.
When he released it, and his arrow thwacked, the elder brother said,
“To the fletch, it sinks.”
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