The coveys that patrol the yard
and feed the hawks and bobcats,
multiply, divide and die mysteriously
to be reborn again as families of quail—
watchful pop in front of a string babies,
mom riding drag and tittering ahead.
Great entertainment over the years,
we should shoot a few to split them up
to improve inbred genetics, but
who wants to, like dispatching pets?
When I was a boy, I’d hike miles
with my four-ten single-shot,
trail a few to November rockpiles,
smooth granite dressed in green
velvet moss, while the majority
slipped off. Atop the rocks, I’d stomp
‘til they flew in a whir and blur
in all directions. One at a time,
stuffed with slices of apple and onion
baked and seasoned to a burnished brown,
I told my stories of the hunt.