Would the day on the hay flats--
sun slight through clouds, grasses
just starting again from last year's
grasses, geese and cranes bugling
over the marsh--have been better
without the old tires, the gutted couch
in a pullout, a moose slumped alongside,
meat taken but the head still attached?
I can close my eyes to the pop bottles,
booze bottles, and orange skeet shells
in the parking lot, along the river. Walk
past them. I can pretend my own steps
through the marsh convey a different
presence. But I can't close my ears.
There, a white-fronted goose, there
a pintail, willow branches cracking
underfoot, F-14s from the base. And there, again,
the shotgun blast and whoop which I can't
edit out, which I probably shouldn't.
It stops when I walk into view. I stop
and stare across the flats through my
binoculars, thinking asshole. And of course
someone's staring back at me
over a truck bed, thinking asshole.
Elizabeth Bradfield, Approaching Ice: Poems, Persea Books, 2010.