The Heart Is A Hunter

Many years ago I read (devoured) Carson Mculler’s The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter.  The book itself was lovely, harsh, dark, like a trip into someone elses sadness.  I forgot the finer details of this book long ago.  What sticks with me still is the title.  The heart, the hunter, and the loneliness built into both.  The most effective hunter is one who holds the bow calmly, sharing breath with the prey, relaxing into the quiet, and then releasing the arrow like a whisper.  There is no room for desperation or need in this act.  It must be considered a personal right.  There is no place for guilt or regret.  All debts will eventually be collected.  You must become a part of the circle of life, you must know that at some point you will be the hunted.


The day will come when you reach up to grab an apple off the neighbors tree, your belly still warm from the breakfast you ate, and in the sights of the predator, you will be.  She will stare at you from the feathered end of her arrow and watch as your arm extends, your pulse slow in your neck, the heart of you exposed.  Without knowing, yet somehow aware, the arrow joins the hunter with the hunted and the circle closes.  There is beauty in this, as there is in all things natural and deadly.


I have been both predator and prey, huntress, and cowering opossum.  I have begged the universe for a sign that my heart will not always be lonely.  Whiskey nights filled with nameless animals gave way to cold mornings and unkindness.  Acceptance, fear, pain.  Critical parts of the hunt, all.


Nothing prepared me for the day when I squinted down the shaft of my arrow and saw a hunter staring back at me, bow drawn tight, aim true, breath slow.  You taught me never to flinch, speed is my greatest ally.  And so I let go.  Without hesitation we release a mortal blow, the air ripples, and flat on our backs we sail into the mystic.


Even the loneliest hearts harbor hope.  Even the deepest of wounds carry the dream of wholeness.  There is no protection against pain and there is no escaping fear.  All that I can do is believe that if someone like you exists in this bankrupt world, everything will be just fine.  We will do everything and hide from nothing.  We will hunt and be hunted.  You will be Romeo and I will be Juliette.


For Travis.


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