A Trapper's True Story
by James Strecker

I once was a trapper
and where I made footsteps
I echoed a shadow of blood.

I gripped every season with
my bare hands and did what I
had to do, sometimes more,
though I knew I would die
and lie naked underground,
my skin like every winter's ice.

One day, as I checked my
lines, I walked into a clearing
where morning unveiled amazing
pure light. I knew myself more
than alive, and that very instant
I saw the mother fox in my trap.

She'd been nursing her kits, four
of them, while my jagged voice
cut into her flesh to the bone;
she'd been crazy with fear and pain,
I could tell, for there was much
blood spattered all around.
And as I walked toward the vixen,
she raised her head to watch me
come through the clearing. And she
gently picked up each one of her
young by the neck, one at a time,
and lay it close to her breath
and licked the milk from its face,
and snapped its neck. She did that
to all four before I could reach her.

And as she watched me over her
newly born, over her dead she had
saved from my hands, I knew
I would never trap again. And I
never have, though I killed her
with one bullet as she lay back
waiting to die. I buried the mother
and her fur, and tonight, in the
warming nighttime of spring I wonder
if ever I'll sleep until morning again.

James Strecker is the author and/or editor of fourteen books, including Black on jazz and Pas de Vingt on ballet, both with artist Harold Town, Routes with photographer Bill Smith, and Recipes for Flesh on animal rights. Widely published as a poet, freelance writer and photographer, he is also Professor of English at Sheridan College, an Intensive Journal Consultant, a publisher, a graphoanalyst, and recipient of the Hamilton Arts Awards for 1992. A Trapper's True Story is taken from Strecker's collection, Echosystem, which was published in 1993 by Mini Mocho Press (Jackson Station, P.O. Box 57424, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, L8P 4X2)

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