Rabbit Hunting

Ahead, our first cottontail waits
at an old fencepost. Before we step in
you catch my arm and hold: a rattler,
coiled and trembling, threatens to strike
at our next move. With no warning,
we have crept into his dying and are startled
by his raised body, an injury evident
in the milk seeping from his neck.
Crazed, he convulses and unravels
himself. I count to three, unable to
interpret signs or patterns in his struggle,
and you swing your barrel left. At the shot
the rattle drops, and he screams—
a raspy outrage. You fire again
and he dies, mouth opened.

We go, questioning his odd presence
in mid-winter, why he surfaced
when all instinct must have pushed
him to his narrow den. But kneeling
against rock now, we feel the earth,
its black foundations beneath us
like some ancient creature risen, our hands
clutching a poisonous hump of skin.
Whatever makes us understand that
we are born of the clay-bottomed creek,
it’s here in the grace of the nearby falls,
in the subtle erosion of base-rock,
and in our agreement to keep this
distance and wander on.

Diana Reaves lives in Valley, Alabama, and has spent the last year teaching English to middle schoolers. This fall, however, she will join the incoming class of poets and pursue her MFA at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. Two of her poems have recently appeared in Tar River Poetry. (drreaves86@gmail.com)

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761