Two Poems by Gregory Orr

by sophie

A Litany
I remember him falling beside me,
the dark stain already seeping across his parka hood.
I remember screaming and running the half mile to our house.
I remember hiding in my room.
I remember that it was hard to breathe
and that I kept the door shut in terror that someone would enter.
I remember pressing my knuckles into my eyes.
I remember looking out the window once
at where an ambulance had backed up
over the lawn to the front door.
I remember someone hung from a tree near the barn
the deer we’d killed just before I shot my brother.
I remember toward evening someone came with soup.
I slurped it down, unable to look up.
In the bowl, among the vegetable chunks,
pale shapes of the alphabet bobbed at random
or lay in the shallow spoon.
 
A Moment
The field where my brother died –
I’ve walked there since.
Weeds and grasses, some chicory
stalks; no trace of the scene
I still can see: a father
and his sons bent above
a deer they’d shot,
then screams and shouts. 
Always I arrive too late
to take the rifle
from the boy I was,
too late to warn him
of what he can’t imagine:
how quickly people vanish;
how one moment you’re standing
shoulder to shoulder,
the next you’re alone in a field. 
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