The Rabbit and the Trapper
I. The Rabbit
Panic stricken at the entrance
to the safety of the burrow
a frantic scuffle to free a leg
caught in the hard steel trap
the more desperate the battle
the more skin and fur was lost
with muscle pulled from the bone
by a trap designed not to be beaten
toughened for Australian conditions.
Family members cringed in the warren
powerless to assist
agitated by the life or death struggle –
the exertion attracted the attention of crows and eagles
looking for an easy meal.
But a final rest to listen to an approaching sound
one last agitated effort
before the trapper with a boot for restraint
broke the neck with a crack,
the fight was over.
II. The Trapper
Approaching the warren
a frenzied tussle was heard
anxious attempts to escape
but the rabbit was caught firm in a trap
not even unintended victims
like kangaroos or wallabies could carry away.
The struggle was ended by the wringing of a neck
practised not to remove the head from the body
the trap was reset for other occupants
then off to the next site with the carcass
slung over a shoulder
as previous generations had done before
in other lean times.
The animals are vital to provide food for a family
and the sale of fur and meat at the markets
to customers both rich and poor alike
was a steady income between scarce jobs
from an ever-growing supply
from a land teeming with the creatures
who changed the landscape
to the decrement of the native fauna.
Rob McKinnon and his wife and their three children live in the Adelaide Hills. He works in Human Relations for a large Australian utility company, and has been a reader and writer of poetry for a number of years.
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