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This poem is taken from PN Review 212, Volume 39 Number 6, July - August 2013.

'Slaughter' and Other Poems Sheri Benning
Slaughter

I thought there'd always be a lustre of time,
rich and slick like the animal's oiled hide. I shot one

for its leather, another for the tender meat
of its spine. One more for the fetor of estrus in fur,
         
for its tree-rubbed horns, the spice of cedar and pine.
One for its muscled gallop, the crack and the echo,

the arc of the bullet shattering prairie night.
For the shocked silence after the last steamed snort

and cry. I stood high on a pile of bones, sun-sucked skulls,
rifle erect at my side. From a thicket of poplar and birch,

the coyotes' keen rose, cut through industry's metallic reek,
shroud of gunsmoke. Drunk and glutted, sweet grease on my lips,

I never thought I'd be here, keeping vigil at your bedside,
that my careless slaughter would lead to such hunger -

thin hospital flannel wrapped around my shoulders
...


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