As an older Boy Scout I thought that a Snipe was an imaginary creature which younger scouts were sent to hunt in the Snipe Hunt hoax. As a younger Scout myself, I never found a Snipe, whatever a Snipe was. It was not until I was about 35 year old that I learned that a snipe was a real creature, a fairly small water bird with long legs and beak. It spends its time meandering the irrigation ditch along Rabbit Lane, rising with indignant “peeps” as I trudge by on my walks. I also learned that the Snipe was responsible for the eerie, haunting reverberating sounds I heard hovering like a fog over the fields at night. Harvey told me to look up high for the source of the sounds: a Snipe, a brown speck in the high sky, diving and allowing the air to thunder through its wings. I wrote this poem about this mysterious little creature.
Summer sun settles on high mountain peaks,
igniting heavy cumulus over a burning great salt lake.
A ghostly echo begins to move,
low over twilight’s deep green fields
of pasture grass and alfalfa hay;
a lonely laughter
approaching then receding,
soaring then plummeting,
in sunset’s golden glint,
in late night’s moon-glow,
to vanish at the new sun’s rising—
seen only by those who know whence comes
the haunting, moving echo of the snipe in the evening sky.