I show the ring; He sucks his teeth.
Calls his ol’ bloodhound, Ralph.
Shoulders the .22 caliber, Bertha.
Speaks. We’s goin’ ‘coon huntin’.
I imagine him chasing black
men up trees in hooded sheets,
the hounds howling as he lassoes
a noose around the coons’ neck for
lusting after his little darlin’.
Strung up on branches, bodies
dangling over dogs as they lick
stiff, purple toes like berries.
I swallow hard. Georgia is not
as color-blind as my Maryland.
Is this a mistake? Is loving her
worth my life? He grins, revealing
darkened gums. You’s ’bout my size,
he says to my feet, gives me a dirty
pair of boots. Waits in the pickup.
The darkness fails to hide my fear.
Ralph sniffs it in my perspiration.
He yelps. Go get ’em, boy!
Chain drops. I run blindly,
tripping over roots, scraping my
knees on shrubs, my face on
low-hanging branches. Light-beams
from his flashlight streak across
my back. I crouch behind a stump.
Ralph’s barks rattle my eardrums.
I gotcha, rascal! A single shot.
The leaves ruffle. The trunks vibrate.
A thump on the ground. My heart sinks.
‘Ol boy, you shat yourself? I stand,
legs like jelly. The black-white-striped
tail, the bandit’s mask, inside a cage.
He bends backwards, laughing, cracking
his back, slapping my shoulder,
echoing through the hollow woods:
Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise,
you have my blessin’.
This poem is written as part of #frapalymo which Bee will be translating into English for us at The Bee Writes… Today’s prompt is the hunters language. Here’s my backwoods, redneck version of the “hunters language.” 😉
Feature image credit: Jim Floyd, State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/60958