Friday, September 25, 2015


"Down from the purple mist of trees on the mountain, lurching through forests
of white spruce and cedar, stumbling through tamarack swamps, came the bull
moose to be stopped at last by a pole-fenced pasture.

Too tired to turn or, perhaps, aware
there was no place left to go, he stood with the cattle.
They, scenting the musk of death, seeing his great head like the ritual mask
of a blood god, moved to the other end of the field, and waited.

The neighbors heard of it, and by afternoon cars lined the road. The children
teased him with alder switches and he gazed at them like an old, tolerant
collie. The women asked if he could have escaped from a Fair.

The oldest man in the parish remembered seeing a gelded moose yoked with an ox
for plowing.
The young men snickered and tried to pour beer down his throat, while their
girl friends took their pictures.

And the bull moose let them stroke his tick-ravaged flanks, let them pry open
his jaws with bottles, let a giggling girl plant a little purple cap of
thistles on his head.

When the wardens came, everyone agreed it was a shame to shoot anything so
shaggy and cuddlesome.
He looked like the kind of pet
women put to bed with their sons.

So they held their fire. But just as the sun dropped in the river the bull
moose gathered his strength like a scaffold king, straightened and lifted his
horns so that even the wardens backed away as they raised their rifles.
When he roared, people ran to their cars. All the young men leaned on their
automobile horns as he toppled."

by Alden Nowlan

No comments: