Metsavennad; a Brother of the Forest

Snow is dangerous,
like thought.

But both provide opportunities.

Dazzle of reflected sunshine,
crunching through waves and banks.
Tried making skis:
ended up waist-deep in powder
as searchlights blasted the trees.

A difficult balance:
think too little and you forget why you’re here
think too much and you forget why you keep going.

Families forced off farms,
replaced by foreigners.
Education now indoctrination.

Sunset hangs on the horizon,
streaking clouds pink.
Days getting longer.
Soon time for birch wine:
strike spike
seal sap
strap against skin.

The sun wavers:
must be near Paldiski.
Don’t know what’s there–
saved one from Siberia,
but she only knew of screams
and the stomp of boots.

Hard to be angry with the Germans anymore,
but I’d still grab my gun for Uluots.
At least they didn’t scorch us leaving,
but let us bounce bullets off T-34 turrets.

Then again, never did see Vaivara.

Stop
Twig of brown above a bank shifts.
Two elliptical brown ears pop up: A roe.
Haven’t eaten meat in weeks–
Traps can be turned into bait.

Upwind? Yes.
back against bark,
palm against pummel,
hand against heart.

Wait and hope.

Eventually,
quiet.

False hope’s a part of life now:
hoped America’s hatred
might do more than imprison its own people;
watched friends become comrades.

German, Swedish, Russian,
22 brief years of freedom,
Russian, German, Russian.

A difficult balance:
think too much…

Back to bark for food:
slice through Scots
break off bark
cut away crust
roast on rocks.
It lasts as a sweet snack,
good for eating on the run.

The needles for tea
prevent scurvy.

Should get water.
Lost the pot in the last raid:
trudged for hours planting tracks,
braced the stolen rifle on a forked tree.
Guns feel unreal when braced,
like you’re just pushing a magic button.

Only the recoil is solid.

Three dropped,
then I ran.
The pot would have clanked the way back to my hideaway.

Two of them found me anyway,
huddled deep and dark,
but their eyes were still small from sun.

Funny how easy it is to pick guns and knives off soldiers’ bodies,
how hard to find pots.

Funny how killing is easy now–
even not getting caught is easy.

Combining them is still hard.

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