Tim J. Myers
Lake Champlain Ferry, October ’95
On the long crossing from Burlington to Port Kent
we got out of our cars on the broad ferry deck,
I’d spied a huge hoofed leg angled
like some ancient snag from the bed of a pick-up,
the leg already stiffening—
saw the broad brown sweep of antler and knew.
People crowded to see the moose, eyes bright
at the bulk of him slumped on metal panels.
A little guy with long hair smiled at everyone
in proprietary fashion, his young-man’s assertive mustache
bobbing as he told the story: “Just standin’ there!…
You can see where I got him…right behind the ear…
Chest broad like a hillside field, thick sable guard hairs glistening.
We looked on as high cloud easing eastward above the Adirondacks
swallowed the sun, light-threads sheening
from its storm-gray edges.
The ferry pitched through gray waves darkening
in winter’s stalking time, four hundred feet of water
straight down and shore far off. The ivory eye of the moose
slumped in its head like an old hard-boiled egg.
Even as I looked the enormous body seemed to be shrinking
from sleep to meat to hard clay.
Behind an ear the size of my hand,
the little jellied mound of scarlet
the guy’s bullet brought up. “Congratulations!”
a man said, holding his little girl up to see.
Since then I’ve been uneasy.
Will the hunter eat the animal, feed his family?
They say there are too many moose
on the Vermont side. But some of us,
looking down the barrel, see the whole world
in those sights. I fear the soul of the moose
was oozing out even then, freeing itself
as if from black mud miring a trail; I fear
it will find no resting place over the deep water,
its altarless pain will enter the dreams of the people.