Alfred Corn

Hunting Season

A quick tap on the barom­e­ter and in about three sec­onds its point­er will turn to pre­vail­ing atmos­pher­ic con­di­tions, low or high pres­sure, the for­mer para­dox­i­cal­ly imply­ing the approach of a storm.  Low. But the view out the win­dow couldn’t be calmer.  A man walk­ing along with his dog, white with irreg­u­lar patch­es of rust, a com­plete­ly lik­able, pat­table ani­mal that sud­den­ly freezes, left front paw lift­ed and tucked, muz­zle aimed at the game bird in hid­ing. Not shoul­der­ing a rifle, with no vis­i­ble inter­est in the hunt, the man con­tin­ues along, his dog ambling after, the detect­ed bird keep­ing to its bolt­hole. A com­plex piano piece on the radio abrupt­ly shifts into a qui­et chorale-like pas­sage with no coun­ter­point at all, just ver­ti­cal and modal har­mo­ny. Gooseflesh, and it feels as though I’ve just remem­bered some­thing long gone and for­got­ten, some­thing ancient, events unfold­ing cen­turies before I was born.  I can almost reach it. In orange sun­set light, I’m alone, walk­ing, wool­gath­er­ing, with desert­ed plains and hills stretch­ing out ahead. Jolted when I approach a sign with an east­ward arrow say­ing THRACE, ONE THOUSAND MILES. Something like that. The chorale pas­sage ends, I’m cat­a­pult­ed back into the present, restored to anx­i­eties linked to absurd chores required by dai­ly sur­vival. Sturm und Drang: that’s an over­state­ment, and yet here it comes, a point­ed com­men­tary on this moment, black clouds, winds, flail­ing branch­es, two pheas­ants explod­ing into the first down­ward scat­ter­shot rain­drops. Sing, god­dess. Lightheaded, I’m ready to be torn apart.


Alfred Corn’s forth­com­ing book, Unions, from which this prose poem is tak­en, will be pub­lished by Barrow Street Press.