Elk Antlers


Snow had fallen before dawn, leaving dripping pines.  The pack was gone from the hills, just the fresh slush from the morning.  We were searching for elk antlers.  A full rack is worth money; the Japanese buy them to make aphrodisiacs: a good activity for spring.

We found bear tracks in the snow.   They were fresh.  Some sleepy bear up with the first heat looking for breakfast.  All we found that day were deer antlers, and tracks that melted down into ponds.

When the wind touched the water, it shimmers like the skin of a dragon, scaly and grey with the reflection of clouds.  Cattails are fuzzy faced men, white with age: stalks brittle, rustling.  And heat awakens the bulbs in the mud.

Outside the window where I work there is a bush so much like hemp it makes me think of pearls and swine.  Dew from the sky forms tears, sweat on five jagged leaves: a dark hand severed by knife dripping blood.

The branches of winter, scabs on a pale background, waiting for the icy flesh to melt: waiting for the week to end and find elk antlers in the snow.

These things I do and see.  I do not do them for them, and they do not do them for me.


first published in Living With a Stranger: self portrait, 1993.

About johnsmithiiimxiii

John Smith, IIMXIII is the avatar of an award winning poet, artist, etc. who still lives in the Palouse country of the Pacific NW. He has not received much notice with his prose . . . but as his avatar, I hope that he keeps plugging along.

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