Psychopomp Magazine Winter 2015 - Page 37

Ken Poyner | 35

Every year, a dozen Unicorn hunters lose their lives in the hunt. Falls, careless shots, feuds covered thinly as accidents, hunters who simply wander off and are never again seen. In the individual, no one much cares. In the collective, the statistics shriek out at you. Every year there is talk of whether we need the hunt or not. And when we say look at all the commerce this hunt supports, our uppity inlanders say who needs brothels, who needs bars, who needs Unicorn outfitters? They do not work out on plain paper how much of their own industry worms its way downstream to the backpacks of these hunters. They have no plan for what they would do with the girls now disemployed who would without Unicorn season become unemployed; no diagram for what people like me, with a small business squarely tuned around the comings and goings of Unicorn hunters, would do. No sense of the displacement, the expectations of ordinary lives that would, with prohibition, need to take a dizzyingly right turn.

And the cultural loss would be culturally devastating. Everyone knows of the Unicorn hunters. Everyone has his or her favorite Unicorn hunter homily. Everyone has an antonym for something he or she has seen placarded as true about Unicorn hunters. Myself, I have seen a Unicorn hunter shave her legs with a pocket knife: where would the imagination of all of my lackluster friends be if I did not have that truth to gut them with?

Of course, we have never seen a Unicorn strapped to the hood of a pick-up truck; or seen a Unicorn horn mounted on a baroque plaque leveled above some public bar. No one runs about in Unicorn chaps. I have not seen a Unicorn since … Well, I have never seen a Unicorn. I suspect there are as many Unicorns in Unicorn country as there are waiting for the city bus where you live undisturbed and by weary train tracks. But that is not the point.

I have seen a whole town slapped silly by Unicorn hunters. I have seen men and women come out of months of unseen privation in the hunt and go split-handled wild with an energy that can come only from being soul-deep into something so absurd it runs clockwork on its own.