First published in SORTES, 2020

There are traces of gunpowder on your teeth.

I want to believe that you joyfully exploded

inside my sinew, but really, it was the kickback

that threw you into the thicket of my arms.


The buckshot is still there, just under the flesh,

protruding like a stone, a forceful possibly-maybe

artless ricocheting of bead, stone, munition.


When the wrappings of my sheared flesh

catch in the sharp places, I weave them

into your simulacrum.

I am meat twisting in the wind after hunting season.


I gathered pebbles for shooting in treetops and streams,

rifle ammunition for shooting the color of fire through air,

a target with buckshot caught fast,

invisible after the hard planting, even though

nothing grows except dirt mounds.


My mouth is filled with stones,

blessings for a finite life, a small nick in wild wood.

All the while, your plastic alter ego casts pebbles into the forest.

A bird falls.


Jaw, beak, bone—set into the earth for tree-tending.