We Are Just Three Mouths

by Julia Bouwsma


A rifle on my shoulder, I am in the henhouse again.
The scream is one pitch too high for human. The weasel
is a white scarf at her throat, pas de deux of feather and fur.
I watch through my gun sight, empty metal eye
inches from its shoulder of snow, blast that shatters any dance.
The weasel falls back, starts to rise, as if it were easy, one motion,
no difference between the hen’s blood in its mouth
and the red hole spreading its ribs. I step on it hard:
the flash of black eyes. It claws, bites my boot. We are three bodies
in soiled pine shavings, three mouths. The weasel winces, its eyes
close, open, his limbs stretch into the last hard act of breath.
The second bullet slips trembling from my hand. I drop the gun
hard, once, twice, but the weasel’s elegant neck won’t snap.
I find the bullet, reload, press into the pink-white fold of ear, pull.
Gunpowder in pine dust, a soft head slap. I reach down to touch
what I have done. I lift it by the tail.

JULIA BOUWSMA‘s debut collection, Work by Bloodlight, was selected by Linda Pastan for the 2015 Cider Press Review Book Award and is forthcoming in January 2017. Her poems and reviews have appeared in Cimarron Review, Colorado Review, Cutthroat, Muzzle, Puerto del Sol, Salamander, RHINO, and others. A former Managing Editor for Alice James Books, she currently serves as Book Review Editor for Connotation Press: An Online Artifact and as Library Director for Webster Library in Kingfield, Maine. She lives and works on an off-the-grid farm in the mountains of western Maine.