Hunter Mnemonic 1-4
by Deborah Woodard
Hunter Mnemonic 1
When I was little, I didn’t understand why wax paper rustling in some corner
made me fix upon the town like a glint of water or the barking of a dog.
It was quiet here, a silence blunt and practical that tied its laces, and there was
no door but the trapper’s across the cover of the well just a few miles up the road.
I found tin cans and a pair of antlers that almost brought back the tang of your shot,
the monotony of its tuft of seeds. When we got in the clear, we’d reach the cabin.
I imagined red plaid beckoning us forward, milkweed’s limbs akimbo.
But I didn’t understand why Jerusalem was just a few miles up the road,
or why the town was weaker than its well. So I drew down a flap of the gray sky.
Behind barred windows hunters rested quietly, made for themselves
a different stillness: the woods could never close over these few. I strained
my likeness from them—peeling wax paper from a corner pocked with leaves—
the way I strained to protect Jerusalem as I thought through the town.
When I was little, I didn’t understand and stood like the cabin unlaced and cold.
A sheet of wax paper rustled inside the cover of the well. I tied my laces.
Hunter Mnemonic 2
I’m stillness like the plastic nailed over the scullery of rats sleeping next
a door that stands wide open. In the woods, we followed tire tracks.
You told me pink checkered sneakers were the dry goods of epidemics,
while I thought they were my steadfast red plaid jacket of the hunter.
When we bumped fingers against one especially yellow branch, I imagined
a humming in the carcass. People only went to Jerusalem if it rose magically
from the rats’ scudding. A dream brings back the touch of your fingers,
degrades the rats, their ointments. We stood in the stillness and waited for guns.
No one went to Jerusalem for it was here, under the tarred cover of the well.
Hunter Mnemonic 3
I picked out a pair of plastic horses, though I didn’t need more animals.
I knew why no one restocked Jerusalem, as hunter’s meat was hardly a cash cow.
But I questioned happenstance: why no one went to Jerusalem and could you
untie the laces of your fingers and the knotted antlers (they didn’t belong to us).
I imagined the red plaid, shadow-antlers tic-tacked across the bandaged window:
these tokens of warning like a dog’s bark. The way was rutted with remembrance.
As you smiled gently, your dirt road wound into red-rued Jerusalem, with no
monotonous barking from afar. Pink checkered sneakers were cheap and for me.
We followed tire tracks, seeds too wet to parachute. Your cig said not to hurry.
When I was little I didn’t understand beads on a string or the plaid jacket,
or even milkweed pods hanging empty at the same time someone lived here
through the trees. Blue and quiet, I wanted to feel the brittle arc of hawks,
and hearing of it was ready to look up. My sneakers warned off the rats.
Hunter Mnemonic 4
The milkweed pods lent me pinky-brown sneakers. It’s so intriguing—
hunter and the rats and my mother had been on overload
on the road. With me on a green mound of rising, a strip of unguent grass.
On the way back, I tied the sleeves of my sweater around the place
where we had been, saw how this clearing had been set apart,
silky behind a tuft of seeds. Its cabin was hurt by our thinking to sweep
her veiled boards, knowing them tied to us. Maybe they’d already
been compulsively tidied. The milkweed pods, a home, home on therange.
Offal’s glaze on the pane and the dovetailed bodies of two hawks
said that people fled the rats. Some made v’s in the center of the road.
My mother was imagining red plaid, the side we saw it from, the remains
of a different quiet, this sadness as she tied my laces. Then she got me
a pair of sneakers. Smiling to herself, she stood cold and open. There being,
along with the rats, mainly us. There might have been a few empty jackets
of the hunter, whose cabin we concocted as sky mended the floorboards.