The hunter pushes a bullet beneath his tongue to fix his aim,
or is it to stave off his thirst? The antelope pausing at the brook

fears each snap. The child drinks, the child is tired, for the child
the day is done. Some animals enter caves and never reemerge:

only later, studying footprints, did I realise I’d seen you dying.
I knew nothing of how things perish, how the feet falter first,

doctors nudge tubes down throats, how the last word might be hello.
I see planes fly by but not the pilots’ faces. I see a bicycle just abandoned:

a crime? My mind replays the upturned wheel’s dwindling spin.
Thirst drives sailors to drench their clothes in seawater, and relief

drives the riderless horse to run, two arrows askew in her saddle.
Later she will stagger, later shots, man overboard, mutiny.

But now only the shock of water, cold on the antelope’s tongue.
All is still. You are coasting down a hill. There is nothing here to fear.


Photo by DeusXFlorida.

Abbottabad Pastoral
War’s Body