The Battle of Mission Mountain

The deer have disappeared.
Usually they congregate around the cottage in
herds of a hundred or more.
They have been replaced by rabbits who run before the swollen tires of my truck like Kamikaze killers.
I dodge death by inches and somehow find a way through the field of flying fur.

Past the Hiroshima hares, blackbirds bomb the battered branches of a lob-lolly pine, bitten by a beetle and now whipped by wings.
The crows cry in a raucous choir, snap and crackle against the cones like violet fire until all the trees are ablaze with coal-king lightning.

There is a staccato burst and red flash as a pileated woodpecker, gunning for grubs in the guts of a wasted white oak, enters the fiery fray.
Other oaks, red, black, and chestnut, mowed down by gypsy moth mortars, crisscross the burnt-out bulks of the pines, black bark blistered where the sap has bled.

I race by wooden corpses thrown up like bulwarks against an alien enemy that has already attacked, conquered, and is even now at this moment sweeping south towards the Gulf of Mexico.

December 10, 1998

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