The Bull

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Painting by Michael Coleman

By Francis Marion – First Published December 12th, 2015

The wind whispered

through golden aspens

as I slipped silently along the ridge

above the river.

I’d seen

the bull

here

the year before

in the eskers

above the valley floor.

His fresh tracks

were still there

littering the ground

in a crisscross of trails

mingling with deer, elk

and bear.

Above the river that rushes

north to the arctic,

the wind is always

moving,

flexing

and shifting.

It is both friend and foe

so I am forced

to move

slowly

always listening

for more than

whispering

leaves.

As it flexed again

I was struck!

Betrayed,

the smell

of the rutting bull

touched

my nostrils;

its pungent aroma

made me

wince

as I stopped

to glass a neighboring

hillside

for movement.

I knew

he was near.

Patience.

Take a few steps.

Look.

Wait.

Pay attention.

Listen.

Quiet.

Listen.

For a moment.

There was nothing.

Then the next

like a ghost from the fog,

He was there.

One thousand pounds

of shimmering

black coat,

bone and muscle,

his breath suspended

in air.

Steam rose

like smoke

from his nostrils

while his ears

alert

twisted on top of

his massive skull.

And I wondered,

“Can he hear my heart

pounding? “

In my head

It beat

a relentless rhythm

both ancient

and familiar.

Breath……..

I told myself.

Relax…

And then

There is something about the time

in between

the moment

when your finger

caresses the trigger

and your rifle

replies.

It is an eternity.

And I think again,

“Surely he can hear me.

Surely

he can hear

my beating heart.”

Steady.

Breathe.

Relax.

Through the scope

his dark coat reflected

the evening light

mingling yellow, orange

and Red

and

for a moment

Time.

Stands.

Still.

Then is released!

I remember

His life escaping

his lungs

and hanging

for the last time

in the

light autumn breeze

vanishing

while the smell

of burning powder

filled my nose.

My ears rung.

I could feel

the blood

coursing

through my veins,

my heart pumping,

pounding.

Breathe.

Relax.

I knew.

I knelt beside his

hulking mass

still warm with blood,

nerves still pulsating,

muscles twitching

and ran my hands

through his thick dark,

coarse hair.

I pulled my knife

from its sheath.

Good, cold steel

makes quick work

of fresh,

warm meat.

Slowly

My heart began

to settle.

So

I began.

I could breathe.

I knew

I was alive.

I know

I am free.

So it ends.

So it begins again.

One thought on “The Bull

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