Thoreau’s Last Hunt

“…our life should be lived as tenderly and daintily
as one would pluck a flower.” — Thoreau

Of course he retches,
approaching the moose
cow his party shot
and felled, her unborn calf
dying with her, blood pooling
with her milk on the forest floor.
Of course his thoughts turn
to a pretty flower
clutched in a girlish fist, or
— better — held gently, not to bruise
the wilting thing. So small a hurt,
so little chance the earth will open up
and she be dragged down
by the hair, the flower dropped
and trampled, earth grieving
for the loss of what was loved.
Never can we do no harm, only try to
do a little less, so pinch the stem
at the base, where it gives the most
satisfying snap, and pluck
the flower — ah,
tenderly, tenderly, this
tenderness is the last
violence left to us.