The Rifle

An old hunting rifle,
Burled walnut and blued steel,
An old friend that comes out
Just once a year.

You wipe it with oil,
Hold it in your hands,
You think of past hunts,
And of your old man.

He gave you this rifle,
As a father’s last gift,
Before an elk season,
He somehow knew he’d miss.

Ten years have gone by,
Ten seasons without,
But each opener since,
An elk has come down.

He shot from the shoulder,
He shot open sights,
Scopes were for cheaters,
“What, are you blind?”

You use his old rifle,
And you shoot as he did,
And on opening morning
A bull bugles in.

You squint down the barrel,
You slowly squeeze,
And as the thunder subsides
The bull’s down on his knees.

As he falls to the earth
You hear your Dad say
“Clean shot, son, clean shot!”
Before fading away.