A Space for Writers of the World
my first try I made a hit it dropped from morning grey 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 pulsing there 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
children made their way across the field I shot it 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 vest 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 is any flight to center no I did not hear it though I clearly mouthed poor thing poor thing poor thing
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Layli Long Soldier holds a BFA in creative writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts and is currently pursuing her MFA at Bard College. She resides in Tsaile, AZ on the Navajo Nation and is adjunct faculty at Diné College. Her first chapbook of poetry is titled, Chromosomory (Q Ave Press, 2010).
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Thank you for teaching and sharing your skills at Dine College. I’ve seen you work with students. You’re supportive and encouraging.