Sunday, November 8, 2009

"Donner Party" by Melinda Mueller

First we ate each other, then we ate
the West. Scythes of rain slice up the street

and clash on the windows. Don't go out there.
Man is wolf to man. Shotguns, rifles, all the paraphernalia,

my grandfather priming his own shells in the basement,
me plucking pheasants on the back stoop. Carved

stocks. Blue-black steel. Oily slide of the rag
and ramrod. First we taught the dogs to hunt, to point,

to have a soft mouth for retrieving. Then we moved away
and sold them, Frosty and the rest. The long needles

of ponderosa pines orchestrate the wind. The child
climbs into their pitchy branches, or the child disappears

without a trace, the boxes of cookies she was selling
found in a driveway. The child plays

with his father's gun. The respirator measures out
his air, lengths of colorless ribbon. Lengths

of rope. This is my body, which shall
be given up for you. Then the West ate us.

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