Gene Kimmet

Hunting Pheasants in November Rain

“A waste of time,” the father says,
“The birds will go to ground
On days like this.” But the boy
Goes anyway, to fields that lie
Across the river, upwind
From mills with their banners
Of red smoke and the orange pulse
Of refinery flares looming over
Rows of rented houses.

He relishes the solitude,
The scent of gleaned fields,
Glisten of cold rain falling
On rows of stunted hawthorn trees
That mark the fence lines.

This empty side of the river
Is no less gray or poor,
Yet to the boy it seems a different
Land and time. All afternoon
He skirts the woods, wades
Ditches, ignores the squish of water
In his boots, cold that creeps inside
His rain-soaked canvas coat.

As he turns toward home at dusk
A pheasant rises, shimmering
In red and green and gold.
It poises for a moment in mid-air,
A watercolor sketched against
A field of gray. The boy raises
The gun, thumbs the hammer back,
And without firing, tracks
The graceful curve of flight
That fades behind a row of trees.

Unloading the gun, he crosses
The bridge toward home.
Leaving his wet boots and coat
On the small back porch, he enters
The kitchen where his father looks up
From the evening paper. “No luck?”
He asks. “No luck,” the boy replies,
Choosing to keep the day
To himself.

Gene Kimmet is a retired professor of economics from Harper College in Palatine, Illinois.

He was born in Lima, Ohio, a town with a long history of heavy industrial production. Kimmet worked at a variety of jobs there, including lens grinder, foundry worker, service station operator, and salesman, before receiving a BA in economics from Ohio Northern University. He later earned an MA in economics from Case Western Reserve University and a post master’s degree in economics from Northern Illinois University.

Kimmet has also done extensive graduate work in English and creative writing at Northern Illinois University and the University of Virginia.

His poetry collections include Recollections of My Father  (Canopic Publishing, 2015),  Skipping Stone (Dream Stone Press, 2000) and In Fee Simple (Stormline Press, 1986.)