Hello the House
On the one day he takes me hunting
his last night's booze-breath fills the Chevy
as we head out of town with two shotguns
rattling around, same as us, unrestrained.
We end up hiking deep into damp woods,
to a rise above an unpainted house
with smoke trailing from its leaning chimney.
And this is where he cups his hands, shouts,
"Hello the House!" so loud it makes me jump.
"Manners,” he says. "Keeps you from getting shot."
He says he learned that shout from my grandpa
who got it from his Civil War uncle
who got it from . . . well, it just goes way back.
I nod, but now I'm scared of getting shot.
Presently the door opens for a frail woman
waving a hanky from the slanting porch.
We wave back, duck through her three-strand fence
and ease down to a creek where I'm told to wait
while he circles around to flush rabbits,
doves, anything with a beating heart
through that long fold to where I’m sitting
on a boulder with the smell of gun oil.
I know he wants me to shoot something,
but I can't stop doing what I do best,
seeing the other person's side of things
(what it takes to make sense of his drinking).
I’m thinking about the porch woman.
Is there a man? Is there even a TV?
I release my safety and wonder how I’ll do
when something comes running or flying past.
He has waited too long to bring me out here.
I‘m citified, beyond reclamation.
I will see the rabbit’s side of things
when it comes bounding past with great leaps.
In ten years I will be in a far-away
fog-horned city trying to sit za-zen
just so, seeing the Roshi's side of things,
right practice via beginner’s mind,
his line of teachers stretching back so far,
which means my own lineage of knowing
how to Hello the House will stop with me
except that I tell it to you today.
Rupert Fike’s collection of poems, Lotus Buffet (Brick Road Poetry Press) was named Finalist in the 2011 Georgia Author of the Year Awards. He has been nominated for Pushcart prizes in fiction and poetry with work appearing in The Southern Review of Poetry, Rosebud, Natural Bridge, The Georgetown Review, A & U America’s AIDS Magazine and others. He has a poem inscribed in a downtown Atlanta plaza, and his non-fiction book, Voices from The Farm, is now in its second printing with photos and stories of life on The Farm, a spiritual community.