Two Poems by Gregory Orr
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.
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.