When I was seven
gopher tails were three cents

The county had a bounty to arrest the little pest
not exactly a price on their heads
but you get the picture

So we hauled buckets of water
to drown them out
learned from the bigger boys
how to tie a noose in binder twine
placed it around the hole
and waited

Curiosity, which has been known to kill cats
is not very good for gophers either

Once caught
they were run in mad races
spun to centrifugal asphyxiation
or finished off in other cruel ways
before yielding us our hard earned bounty

In the spring we watched their return
to the snow speckled pasture
running tumbling wrestling
making love

And the wonderful babies
when they first ventured out
to try sunshine grass and shaky legs

It amazes me now
that as boys

We could take such joy
in their playful

And in their deaths