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 coon’s 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 leash 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 rustle. 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’.
© 2015 Nortina Simmons
Written for Frau Paulchen’s Lyrik Monat, which translates from German to Mrs. Paulchen’s Poetry Month. Today’s prompt is the hunter’s language. Here’s my backwoods, redneck version of the “hunter’s language.” 😉