Her first bullet she buried under the cypress, and it grew into a lace dress she put on to show her mother, who was, at that time, a shining image of the second bullet, pristine and tall, slender as the beams holding up the little room where she slept curled like a mole with her sisters and brothers. Her mother was not always a bullet. Before she was six, her mother was soft. Her third bullet was the rabbit she shot to feed her mother. It didn’t even run from her, looked so planted it could have been a blossom she plucked from the fat earth. She was hungry, her mother was hungry—her sisters. Bullets are not easy to come by. Then, the cooing mourning dove, the gray speckled sky, the white fence, which was a bullet, which she would take in her back pocket to England, plant to say I’ve claimed this land in the name of America. Then the world was a bullet and she sat sidesaddle, like a lady, proper enough to ride without a single glance, to make every glance a bullet, to catch it in her teeth, fit it into her rifle fire over her shoulder, somewhere out of sight and hit just where she was aiming, hit right at the spine so each target bowed and transformed, folded into itself neat as a blanket, neat as a dress she’d hold up to the light to say yes, this is mine. I made this.
-- Sara Moore Wagner is the recipient of a 2019 Sustainable Arts Foundation award, and the author of the chapbooks Tumbling After (forthcoming from Red Bird Chapbooks, 2022) and Hooked Through (2017). Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in many journals including Beloit Poetry Journal, Rhino, Sixth Finch, Waxwing, The Cincinnati Review, and Nimrod, among others. Find her at www.saramoorewagner.com.