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And sometimes he went hunting.
He found a good single-shot
.22 in a cluttered
second-hand store outside town.
It was old but well cared-for --
smelt of gun-oil, and the bore
was bright, clear of corrosion.
Through friends who rented one fl oor
of a farmhouse out from town
a mile or so, he'd obtained
permission from the owner
to hunt on his land -- squirrels,
the man said, had been raiding
the cornfi eld he'd not yet picked.
He parked in the yard at dawn
on the fi rst day he hunted
and walked up a wagon road
that wound through leafl ess gray woods.
The trees were unfamiliar.
Once he had edged in among them --
he'd heard a squirrel chatter.
The trunks stood close together.
How the land lay further in,
he could neither see nor guess.
Another squirrel chattered
further in. He retreated
to the road, and felt relieved.
As he went on, the woods thinned.
In a clearing by the road
stood a small persimmon tree,
leafl ess in the reddish light,
the fi rst one he'd ever seen.