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By Layli Long Soldier

my first try I made a hit it dropped from morning gray the smallest shadow both wings slipped
inward mid-flight the man barked Now I shot again and again a third time with each arrow
through the target I thought was it luck or was it skill luck or skill as the last one fell
its awkward shape made me run there pulsing on the ground I was astounded by its size a
gangly white goose throbbed heaved its head my eyes dropped blood flowers opened in the
snow of its neck behind my shoulder stepping down from a yellow bus
child made their way across the field I shot once more to end it quickly close range its death
did I do this to spare the bird from suffering or to spare the children the sight my motives in
humid cold yes my knuckles in the cold steamed bright red
because on my stomach in grass in rubber boots pockets and vests I slid along with that hunter I
did as he directed from quiver my draw my black lashes in steely eyed release it felt good there
it felt strong my breath in autumn was an animal there I thought did I really do this        did I
really yet what difference is muscle is an arrow powered upward or any flight to center when I
did not hear it though I clearly mouthed poor thing poor thing poor thing

Layli Long Soldier, "Talent" from WHEREAS. Copyright © 2017 by Layli Long Soldier.  Reprinted by permission of Graywolf Press,

  • Activities
  • Nature

Poet Bio

Layli Long Soldier
Layli Long Soldier earned a BFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts and an MFA with honors from Bard College. In 2015, Long Soldier was awarded a National Artist Fellowship from the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation and a Lannan Literary Fellowship for Poetry. She was awarded a Whiting Writer’s Award in 2016. Long Soldier is a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation and lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. See More By This Poet

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