Once during a vegetarian lunch with a painter
My father’s age,
I learned more than I needed to know.
“Whether you eat to kill or kill to eat,”
He said, “‘is the same to me.
If you were Sioux fighting Crow, or after buffalo,
“Or if the elk in the mist feels your difficult
Shot, or if it is foetal
Eels for cuisine in Italy or your domestic
“Cows that can hardly believe it,
You can save your breath.
I have no stories to tell and no meat to eat.
“T mean I’ve killed men
And there’s no feast when it’s over.”
And I’ve ended the day in conversation with a man
My age who wishes
Not to talk about most of his life.
Therefore we’ve selected the events of the dusk:
Replaced his history students
With the flesh of pike; replaced two tornadoes
With redwing nests balanced in the wild rice;
Replaced his wife
With the swimmer holding her breath
From us. This is how we
Replace paratrooping: with the way the flag,
Folded crosswise over itself by wind,
Resembles a red
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