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IRON / Jack Hand At the bottom of the year I followed men With iron in their names, Polchek and Hauser. The half-frozen mud sucked At our shoepacks as we Breasted the underbrush And entered the second growth pines. The wind off the mountain cut Through my blanket coat, Froze my denimed knees, Pulled at my rifle sling. We headed for the clearing Near a ruined stone wall Where Polchek had seen fresh spoor At the week's beginnings. Hauser joked about how His half-Indian grandfather had once Lived on deer droppings for a week In these mountains, Growing more like the buck he hunted Each day, until the men who Brought him home had knocked him out, And trussed him to the same pole They took his kill out on. A flag flashed out of the glade As we neared it. Three rounds took a buck In flight and bounced him higher. He fell, broken-backed, On a granite outcropping. Like Hauser's grandfather I wanted to run wild Until they dropped me too, Away from men with iron in their names. Instead, I helped to dress him out, Blood to my bare elbows keeping My body warmer than my cast-aside coat, Blood on my face cold as iron. The Missouri Review ยท 25 ...


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