“The Pregnant Camper” by Cherise Wyneken


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
pluming dust.

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.
surrounded us.



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.