Lifeblood and the loss of innocence

I dream of two plucked ducks.
I see them at the bottom of a large garbage can
in the dirty restaurant kitchen.
I can tell they’ve been dipped in boiled water
then discarded.
I don’t know why, but I cry.
They still breathe slowly
and their eyes beseech.
I run to the fat, cigar smoking, hairy, sweating son of a bitch of a chef
and say why you do this?  Why?
He says shut the fuck up, and punches me hard.
I stumble back to the ducks.
Lifting them out gingerly, I feel their lives ebb out.
I take them through the snow to the creek out back.
I break the ice and let them go in the cold flow.
Once again, I cry
and wipe the tears, mixed with blood.

Fished with my Dad and brother, as a kid. Not a dream.
I was the lucky one, who caught the first one.
There was the thrill of the bite, the bending and writhing rod,
my Dad reaching down with the net.
You got a big one!
What to do now?  Take the hook out.  What’s the matter?
Here, I’ll give you a glove, you ninny.
Hold it fast, and work the hook out.
It had swallowed the hook.
Just hold on tight, and pull!
Scared shitless.  The struggle.  The eyes.  The guts came out.
I cried then too, and ran back to the car.
Ridiculed.  Mister Sensitivity. Only a fish, but we didn’t need it.

 

Years later, married.
I was expected to go partridge hunting
With some dull cousin on my wife’s side.
We crept through the bush
Amid his admonishments to keep the noise down.
From behind, I heard his hoarse whisper.
Freeze!
He had spied a winter rabbit.
I did not know.
His shotgun went off six inches from my ear.
The rabbit was blown to hell, not even good for meat.
You Jerk.
He laughed.
I am still half deaf in that ear.

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