by steve de france
Dogs baying, howling. Men in a jeep.
Drinking beer. Pointing guns.
Shrubs cracking under wheels.
I’d seen them earlier today. Sitting in
their jeep. Shooting squirrels out of
trees. Blew ’em all apart. But I ran
till the forest was quiet.
Resting here beside a clump of dead
branches I hear dogs baying. They’ve
found me. They’re close. I hear shells
rattling into rifle breaches, bolts
jamming shells into firing position.
I’m running again.
Behind me a bolt slams down,
the popping crack of a gun,
the side of the tree next to me explodes.
I run hard.
Run with all my strength.
I leap over my trail & crash into
tree cover. But the jeep is rattling,
jerking itself through underbrush behind
When I hit the stream
the coldness of water tears breath from
me. I stop for a second to regain
direction. A 30 bore bullet smashes my
flank, it’s like being clipped by a
truck. I’m down, then up and running.
I see my fields golden in the sunset,
it’s my spot. I have to try for it.
Wildly with total concentration,
Over bushes, brush past trees, knock
branches down, in my thirst to escape.
I’m moving now. Flying over earth,
my mind afire with the pain in my flank.
Now breathing coming hard.
What’s this? A strange taste.
Choking. Blood in my throat.
The ground rushes toward me.
Something going down.
I’m on the ground.
Breathing blood & foam from my mouth.
More burning, body going numb.
Try to get up. Can’t.
Someone standing over me.
A boot rolls my head over.
â€œDidja hit em?â€
â€œYeah, deader ‘an hell.â€
He didn’t hit me. He couldn’t have.
I’m still running, still alive.
I see my spot now.
It’s here. Tall grass. That good smell.
All the way up to my shoulders.
But I don’t remember it being