by Truman P. Reitmeyer
printed in “Dear Abbey,” 1991
That flew within his reach.
Two were stopped in their rapid flight
And fell on the sandy beach.
The male bird lay at the water's edge
And just before he died,
He faintly called to his wounded mate
And she dragged herself to his side.
She bent her head and crooned to him
In a way distressed and wild,
Caressing her one and only mate
As a mother would a child.
Then covering him with her broken wing
And gasping with failing breath,
She laid her head against his breast
A feeble honk — then death.
This story is true though crudely told.
I was the man in this case.
I stood knee-deep in snow and cold
And the hot tears burned my face.
I buried the birds in the sand where they lay
Wrapped in my hunting coat,
And I threw my gun and belt in the bay
When I crossed in the open boat.
Hunters will call me a right poor sport
And scoff at the thing I did.
But that day something broke in my heart,
And shoot again? God forbid!
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