German Hunting Party
In Rumpelstilzkin hats and ten-league boots,
Their chunky bodies clad in mossy loden,
The barrels of their shotguns safely open,
The hunters gather for the morning’s shoot
As late arrivals turn up in Mercedes,
Get out their dogs and cartridge-belts and horns
And join the main group on the inn’s front lawn,
Where all the talk is pension plans and rabies.
On such a splendid morning, there’s no hurry:
Only the silky gun-dogs chew their leads
And sniff their masters’ legs, as if to plead
The nearness and the farness of the quarry.
The hunters watch the sky and talk their fill.
A minute’s wait will not affect the kill.
by Jonathan Steffen
First published in The New Statesman, 27 March 1987; republished in St. Francis in the Slaughter-House and other poems, Falcon Editions, 2006