Dit is inden Hert
Behold my crow’s eye view of winter,
inhale its icy bite, slow your heart
to the muffled clip-clop, clip-clop
of horses hauling a burdened cart across
the narrow road as your eyes caress
this broad sweep of snow-bound valley,
Flemish fantasy of bundled skaters twirling
on tidy glass-green squares under
a celadon sky, placid valley
rimmed with the jagged majesty of
impossible Alpine peaks.
On the hill before it all, a trio of hunters--
arms taut, clutching sharpened spears,
their beloved dogs at heel. At first glance,
triumphant, trudging home from the kill.
Those stoic crows above, pearl-eyed sentries,
foretell a feast of scraps and offal.
Warm your hands by the cadmium yellow
and red bonfire outside the nearby inn.
Imagine roast pig and venison,
lick your glistening lips as you praise
the picturesque white caps of snow
cozying peaked rooftops. Admire my use
of line and color— the strong black verticals
of barren trees angling down the hill, the triangles
of inn and cottage echoed in far-off peaks,
the inn’s warm brick mirrored in two dogs and
a hunter’s coat, vivid contrast to the cool whites,
greys and ashy blues that dominate my masterpiece.
There now. You can write your art history
term paper or impress your latest girlfriend
with your depth of observation, erudition
and imagination. Just don’t come any closer.
You don’t want to mourn the drooped heads
and heaving ribs of those hunger-gnarled dogs,
their bellies bowed and growling, the single
thin fox dangling down the hunter’s back,
barely a snack for his five gaunt children.
He knows too well the wail of bare branches
gusting in his wife’s hollowed eyes,
the blade of her collar-bone fraying
the lace at the neck of her faded dress.
Best to ignore the broken sign dangling
from the inn: Dit is inden Hert, To the Deer,
my private taunt to those hapless hunters.
Ignore the tiny blue tracks of scampered rabbits
bounding out of hunger’s reach, the black-clad man
bent under his load of sticks, and the distant
groans, whines, creaks and gurgles
of the singing ice, readying to crack open
Death’s colourless abyss.
Elya Braden took a long detour from her creative endeavours to pursue an eighteen-year career as a corporate lawyer and entrepreneur. She is now a writer and mixed-media artist living in Los Angeles. Her work has been published in Algebra of Owls, Calyx, Gyroscope Review, Rattle, Willow Review and elsewhere. Her chapbook, Open The Fist, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. You can find her online at www.elyabraden.com.
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