THUNKPORN: Neighbors, Throwing Knives

Neighbors, Throwing Knives
A Poem by David Bottoms

In the woods at the corner of our yards
we hang the plywood squares,
the Magic Marker images of pronghorn, panther,
grizzly, whitetail,
and step off the paces we use to measure
our skill.
Here in the soft light filtering
through needles and cones, green shifting
membrane of poplar, hickory, live oak,
white skin of dogwood beginning
to flower, we heft the blades,
grind points on stone, gauge the fine balance
between what is real and what is imagined,
the knives bringing all the animals to life
and killing them again
as our throws bury steel deep in the heart
of the quivering wood and the blades tremble
back through their bones.
In our own hearts
we love what they might be, their shapes
frozen in brush as though, suddenly,
they had turned from wood
and caught our scent drifting in a wind-shift.
So we hunt this suburb, whet our aim
to move among them in the little wilderness
beyond the bricked-in beds of azaleas,
sunflowers tied against tall sticks,
the half-acres of razored grass,
trellised vines, boxwoods manicured by wives.