Oral History

Gun shots against the low-slung sky
though it is no season for hunting.
Or perhaps it was firecrackers, not fourth of July;
someone always celebrating something.
Both sounds bellicose, familiar
in a land of trappers and tourists.
Booms indecipherable to the ear
convivial and murderous.
And then there’s the dead raccoon
stuffed and hiding by the compost.
But no one here has skinned a deer,
at least, not at our house.
There was the time my sister
—ever the science teacher—
absconded the talons from a wild turkey hen
run over by the lamppost.
She froze the turkey foot
in our grandma’s freezer
and took it out for observation
when visitors would please her.
But when my brother hit the buck
by the Cabbage Shed on this thirty-fifth birthday
he didn’t dare to take its head
or at least, we remember it that way.