Visiting Home: On My Father Awakening

She clicked on the light and shook him from his dream. He woke up small in the scarred oak bed, Eyes red with fighting the insistent hunger That was the only danger in 1933 In Chippewa County; he woke up curled up, Dream-caught, confused, broke open his small knot, Bunched like a shot squirrel, and stretched stiffly. “I know he’s here, I know,” he said, coming slowly From those old forests, “I’m awake.” But his eyes Wouldn’t come to today. The wide silence Of the hunt held him, and he looked past us, Intent, still searching trees for nests, To find in all the green one small furred meal, Some dark meat for the many who must feed On the illegal rabbit, the unlawful squirrel, For it was summer, and all game was out of season, As if hunger had a season but to eat. But no. I could not blind his eye-dark dream With the electric bulb of 1966. I turned away and I turned out the light. I, who have never been bound to single-shot And lead-shock for the daily sake of family, Who killed perhaps ten bottles, and once, one slow squirrel, Could not forbid him gun, trees, squirrel, hunger again, Could not deny him his man-making pain.

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