Home from WWII, minus half a finger
my brother, a good shot as Private First Class,
bought a rifle. Took up hunting.
One Labor Day Weekend,
my husband, his brother Larry, and me,
pregnant and due in December,
tagged along in his Chrysler Town & Country
down a winding washboard road
At the bottom of the steep slope
sparkling clear and clean and
surrounded by pine studded hills
lay Meadow Lake. No one else was there.
Taking a deep breath of scented air, I felt
a blissful silence far from banshee city static.
Before tent pegs got pounded in,
a deer came bounding through.
My brother grabbed his gun. Come on.
My husband followed. Don’t get lost, I called.
Larry and I set up camp. Daylight journeyed west.
Darkness crept beneath the trees and greeted night.
Silence settled like a heavy drape
covering me with worry. What if I need a doctor?
The keys are in my brother’s pocket.
Gathering wood for a signal fire
careful not to set the woods aflame
we scuttled around, stacking twigs and branches
a footstep from the lakeside shore
until the tower grew taller than myself.
As the sun slipped behind the Sierras
two sheepish guys blundered into camp.
We made the pile higher – lit it.
Bright orange flames reached for the night sky,
snapping and crackling.
Making a song against blackness surrounding us.
Blackness where people get lost.
Cherise Wyneken is a freelance writer of prose and poetry. Selections of her work have appeared in a variety of publications, as well as in two books of poetry, two chapbooks, a memoir, and a novel. She lives with her husband in Albany, CA where she participates in readings at various venues in the San Francisco East Bay Area.