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.