Henriette and the Hunter
— of Pan, by Knut Hamsun
It was the last day of summer, a hot day,
and only the trees trembling
in no wind
were thinking of winter.
I’d been gathering kindling when I heard
one shot and saw a bird fall like a single
dark drop from the sky. It was so sad I wanted
to throw myself into the sun. Instead
I walked half dreaming to the place
where the bird fell and found,
as I’d felt I would, a man in the green jacket
and yellow boots of a hunter.
I knew he spent his winters alone, knew
that with the wind shaking his door
he would make a fire and sit down to watch
the flames fly around the iron pot.
He told me he killed only what he needed
to live, then he drew me towards him
as if it were he who was dreaming all this,
not I. As the sun dropped, the air
began to whisper. It was the whirring
of mayflies, the inaudible
panic of moths.
We lay down knowing one of us
was just game,
just one more wounded, we didn’t
first published in Idiosyncrasies (Illuminati)
As writer, poet and influential teacher with the UCLA Extension Writers program, Suzanne Lummis is among the best-known figures in the Los Angeles literary community. She was among the principal avatars of the Los Angeles and Long Beach based movement of the 90s, Stand-up Poetry, and, through her poems and essays, is associated with the Poem Noir, a sensibility influenced by the dark themes, chiseled beauty and striking dialogue of the black and white crime movies of the 40s and 50s. Her poems have appeared in The Hudson Review, Antioch Review, Ploughshares, New Ohio Review, Plume, The American Journal of Poetry and The New Yorker. Her most recent collection, Open 24 Hours, won the Blue Poetry Prize and was published by Lynx House Press. Suzanne edited Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond (Pacific Coast Poetry Series/Beyond Baroque Books), one The Los Angeles Times’ Ten Best Books of 2015.