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Philip Levine - Small Game

In borrowed boots which don't fit 
and an old olive greatcoat, 
I hunt the corn-fed rabbit, 
game fowl, squirrel, starved bobcat, 
anything small. I bring down 
young deer wandered from the doe's 
gaze, and reload, and move on 
leaving flesh to inform crows. 

At dusk they seem to suspect 
me, burrowed in a corn field 
verging their stream. The unpecked 
stalks call them. Nervous, they yield 
to what they must: hunger, thirst, 
habit. Closer and closer 
comes the scratching which at first 
sounds like sheaves clicked together. 

I know them better than they 
themselves, so I win. At night 
the darkness is against me. 
I can't see enough to sight 
my weapon, which becomes freight 
to be endured or at best 
a crutch to ease swollen feet 
that demand but don't get rest 

unless I invade your barn, 
which I do. Under my dark 
coat, monstrous and vague, I turn 
down your lane, float through the yard, 
and roost. Or so I appear 
to you who call me spirit 
or devil, though I'm neither. 
What's more, under all, I'm white 

and soft, more like yourself than 
you ever would have guessed before 
you claimed your barn with shot gun, 
torch, and hounds. Why am I here? 
What do I want? Who am I? 
You demand from the blank mask 
which amuses the dogs. Leave me! 
I do your work so why ask?

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Added: Feb 20 2003 | Viewed: 1940 times | Comments and analysis of Small Game by Philip Levine Comments (0)

Small Game - Comments and Information

Poet: Philip Levine
Poem: Small Game
Volume: On The Edge
Year: Published/Written in 1963
Poem of the Day: Aug 10 2015
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