Even now, I do not know
what a dark creek bottom was
my mother’s mind, what

understory brambles grew
unchecked on her migratory
crawl to being grown.

I do know how she tensed
when held, the stiff
muscles in her back

leaning away more than
in, hard as a rifle
stock. Motherless at 16,

she carried her daddy’s
Winchester 67 into the woods
while he pissed and

fucked their money away.
She chambered .22 shorts,
felt in her young bones

the smooth slide
of the bolt, the sweet
sound of the pulled

cock. Used the buckhorn
and post sights to set
a clear line of fire,

squeezed the trigger,
ejected the case, reloaded—
again and again—

until dinner, like a glut
of heavenly manna,
fell from trees and sky.


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