by Mary McCarthy

I found you one day
at my kitchen door
holding the wild turkey
you’d shot that morning.
The fall of soft bronze
and brown feathers
all silk and spike
feet gnarled, long neck
hanging down, almost
like the live ones did
when my dog chased them
up into the tulip tree,
flying that creaking clumsy
way they have, to sit
on the high branches
and drop their heads down
to mock the dog’s frantic
fuss-barking up at them
so far out of reach.

You loved all things wild
and hard to find
would go into the woods
alone, just to be there
breathing in the air
trees breathed out
moving so soft and quiet
you almost faded
into the brown green
must of the thick-
leaved forest floor
felt more at home there
than behind walls and windows,
grounded in the silence
listening for every hush and rustle
of the wild lives all around you.

After the admirations
and congratulations
we asked you to stay and eat—
less shy than usual,
in the flush of your success
you stayed, and it was good
to be around that table
warming ourselves
with talk and stories
as though gathered
around a campfire,
our circle a room
without walls or roof
an oasis of comfort
inside the falling dark.

That memory remains
untarnished, a golden hour
before we knew the thief
that would take you
was already there, too deep
to be uprooted, in blood and
lung and bone, stronger
than anything we would beg
or pray or do or bargain for
to save you.

PHOTO: Wild Turkey Feather by Josch 13.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is a memory of my younger brother, who did appear on my doorstep, excited and happy to have harvested his first wild turkey, He stayed for supper and it was a good time, one of the last before his diagnosis of widely metastasized lung cancer, the disease that would inexorably take his life over the following 10 months, He was 39, and on the brink of his greatest romantic relationship, had just purchased his first home. He was a remarkable artist, a kind and patient person. He suffered without complaint or losing hope. Even the best memories are shadowed by the knowledge of what was to come.

MARY McCarthy copy

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mary McCarthy is a retired R.N. who has always loved words and writing. Her work has appeared in many anthologies and journals, most recently in The Ekphrastic World (edited by Lorette Luzajic), The Plague Papers (edited by Robbi Nester), and in recent issues of Earth’s Daughters, Third Wednesday, Gyroscope, and Verse Virtual. She has been a Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee.