Picking wild blackberries,
New life abounds in the heat.
I had little care of the dirt in my shoes
And the scratching of thorns on my bare legs as I climb
Through the bramble to pluck and eat, violet stains on the tips
Of my fingers like a fresh kill.
I wander still through the thicket.
The honeysuckle in the air is at once shrouded
With the old smell of death and the buzzing of flies.
I follow it in a morbid hunt driven by curiosity,
And I find a pale skull hidden in the dark pockets
Of the summer time harvest.
Antlers tattered with young felt, still soft for scavengers;
This princely crown sits alone, a body no longer raising it high.
A strange thing to see, for heads are trophies not to be flung to the ground.
Yet here it sits, a magnificent, shredded visage that once held large, ever-vigilant eyes,
And walked a proud gait with his progeny.
Discovered prone and lifeless by a child amongst the fruited vines.
My innocence is what paused me in my own hunt, so I sat near
And pondered this conundrum of nature, though I knew it was
The way of life. No repulsion came to me nor did I feel the need to flee.
A shot rang out in the woods, far from my sentinel position.
I saw the likes of him in the early fog in the tree line,
Grazing upon the sweet dew of morning, plucking liqueured shoots of grass.
Innocence is no stranger to Death; they are distant acquaintances.
To most of us, He is uninvited. To the suffering few, He is welcomed.
Amongst the sweetness of berries, I became acquainted with Death.
And I was not afraid.
The felled prince at my feet didn’t live long enough to reign.
But I see him in visions as I pull my soul back to the woods.
His crown is magnificent and his eyes bear into my soul.
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