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, www.graywolfpress.org.
More Poems about Activities
When you caught one to keep,
we took it home and I asked you to teach me.
You showed me how to spike the brain—
I thanked the fish, looked away, pressed down.
We bled it, shaved away the scales,
severed meat from bone.
A Wing and a Prayer
We thought the birds were singing louder. We were almost certain they
were. We spoke of this, when we spoke, if we spoke, on our zoom screens
or in the backyard with our podfolk. Dang, you hear those birds? Don’t
they sound loud?...
More Poems about Nature
Listening in Deep Space
We've always been out looking for answers,
telling stories about ourselves,
searching for connection, choosing
to send out Stravinsky and whale song,
which, in translation, might very well be
our undoing instead of a welcome.
We launch satellites, probes, telescopes
unfolding like origami, navigating
geomagnetic storms, major disruptions.
At the Equinox
The tide ebbs and reveals orange and purple sea stars.
I have no theory of radiance,
but after rain evaporates
off pine needles, the needles glisten.
In the courtyard, we spot the rising shell of a moon,