A Gratitude of Men

Ours does not need to remember a
mythology. Because we have all been
helpers, we live comfortably in our
skins. Our desires are for women though
we shut out our women from time to
time--in the rough talk and the talk of
the tools of hunting and fishing. We
know it is killing. And that is good. We
are not sheltered by the cellophane
deceptions of supermarket meat. There's
something honest about the blood of
grouse and black bear sweet and purple
on our hands. And how we must clean
what we eat. We live in a shack built
with our own hands, warm ourselves
with wood we've made, in a fireplace
built of fieldstone we hauled from the
field ourselves. We cook. We clean. We
maintain. Talk of politics and ghosts.
Argue whether the side-by-side double
sixteen works better in the field than an
automatic three-shot twelve. Debate the
virtues of St. Croix or Orvis. Teach how
to hunt and fish. How to keep the sun
constant over your shoulder so not to get
lost in the deep woods. We lie about our
conquests, confess our anxieties about
women guiltily. But are not ashamed to
praise beauty, hearing the sweet
conversation of bright trout streams,
discriminating between the kind of sigh
the wind makes in oak and then pine.
We watch the new green of spring
emerge and the treasury of gold and
red and russet and yellows of fall's
retreat. We are made silent by Schubert,
and chickadees and white throats and
the plangencies of the evening thrush,
and holler to see the dancing aurora.
The meadow fills with geese and crows
and deer and bear; and a coyote garmented
in rust and white ambles along the wood
line followed by a black six point buck.
Though we are helpers, we live easily
without our women for a time in
the skins of animal, water, and wood
and are happy in the company of men.

Steven Fortney

Back to SF Poetry Page
Back to SF Home Page

Page updated by TiPi, 10/27/2000