I was sixty yards past the bird
by the time I stopped.
When I walked back from the car
he was warm and limp.
I gathered him in my arms,
feeling guilty, not wanting to be seen.
But traffic was light.
No one caught me
clutching the dead out-of-season
pheasant. At home I cleaned the bird,
threw his guts in the trash
where that night
they were pulled out,
by fearful striped feral cats
who lurk in
storm drains across the street.
I aged the bird
three days in the refrigerator,
then plucked him,
in a Dutch oven with leeks,
marsala, garlic, and mushrooms.
I drank a bottle of Argentine merlot.
The cock pheasant and I became one.
Our feathers went into a plastic
bag. I later tied
soft-hackled wet flies with them,
with my iridescent covert feathers.
Two years later on a drizzly
midday north of Yellowstone, I
caught a cutthroat trout on one of
those flies, and released it.