Before the ball breaks the plane of air and flesh and pierces gristle and bone,
when antlered grace feeding on the emerald steppes is brought to its knees,
in the quiet after the shot,
when the awful silence hovers in the spaces between the trees;
the hunter stands before the warmth that once was life,
feels it beneath the soles of his black boots,
fading fast into the Autumn ground.
That which is mystery,
mourning and gratitude together,
splits before the steel of his blade and bubbles out like a scarlet brook upon the grey stones.
The knife is sheathed.
The silence is gathered up from the grass by tender hands and slung across the gentle slope of shoulders to be carried down the mountain.
The insides remain upon the hills to await the return of sound.