by Nick McRae

As a boy, I built a trap for deer
from rusted tin and bailing twine
and rigged it up between the farm’s
last two persimmon trees.
I’d seen the deer dad strung up in the barn,
strips of hide and organs
strewn among the straw.
When morning came,
the shard of ruined tin hung lifeless
from its net of twine—
the trap untripped.
I laughed and breathed
and hacked the knotted cord
to pieces with my pocketknife,
then made a bed of leaves
and ate my fill of ripe persimmons.
Another day, my brother took his hatchet
to the two dark-wooded trees
and felled them both.
I watched as he dismembered them,
stripped the trunks and limbs of bark.
When dad appeared,
my brother fled into the woods.
Dad swore. He stood silent
by the fallen trees, head down,
mouth moving as in prayer.
Side by side, we rolled the last persimmons
into piles then crouched beside them,
squeezed each tiny fruit—
some green and dry, some ripe,
some far too soft to save.

NICK McRAE has been a Fulbright fellow in the Slovak Republic and a finalist for the Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. His poems appear or are forthcoming in American Literary Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Copper Nickel, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and Passages North. He teaches and studies poetry at The Ohio State University, where he also writes and edits book reviews for The Journal. Born in Chattanooga, TN, and raised in northwest Georgia foothills, he now lives in Columbus, OH.