reflections from the southeast PA rural underground
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
To Our Lady of the Wood
He had taken deathlife the day before in the mid-morning hours. This time had not been the usual day-long marathon of past seasons. He wanted to suffer, he said to me, "for the craft." But in just two days and 9 hours of shivering cold he had taken two female deathlifes. This time the suffering would come after the hunt.
When I arrived she was hung from the tree by her two front legs. Her head fell back lifeless now. The brown, white, and black coat that had sheltered her from these cold winter days was now stripped. I could see only the remnants of the fur around her four ankles and hooves. Deathlife was white bone and bright red flesh. The muscles had frozen from hanging outside in the frigid night air of early December. Her coat lay draped over the blue metal summer chair that sat just to the right of her body.
He commented on the amount of fat stretching across her back. "She must have been eating really well," he said. "Yeah, corn and soybeans are everywhere," I responded. How many fields had this deathlife known? What dreams had she conjured in the minds of those that had been lucky enough to see her and pondered at that moment, or in a later reflection, the magic of her beauty? And too, how many had glanced without even the slightest reverence for the creature they had just witnessed? How many times had she lept and bounded through stream and over rock and wood? Such a mighty strength she had mastered in her muscular legs and back! Such keen eyes and ears.
"Look at the amazing black patch just behind her nose," he said. "She was such a beautiful girl." I could not stop looking at that head which now rested like some unknown thing on the bed of dead maple leaves on the ground. The eyes now lifeless as the sky above. Gray and clouded over. As I sturdied the frozen rib cage so that he could cut off the bottom right leg I noticed my hands start to burn with cold. This was only appropriate after all. It was the least I could suffer to be saved from death with this life.