Judith Ramsey Southard 


His First Kill

The boy’s father whispered,
Wait until you can get
a clear shot.
Don’t rush it.
The turkey fluffed
his mass of thick feathers at the decoy,
turned his back
revealing his fan of lavish colors:
Green, purple, blue with hues of gray toward white
all standing straight around his tail.
Strutting royally toward his hens
he noticed that she was not following.
He approached her again,
and stared at her.
The boy chose that second.
The shot from the Winchester 22
rang out.
The turkey toppled headfirst
to the ground
seeming for one tragicomic instant
to stand on its head.
The fowl fought his losing battle
with death,
beating the dust
with each frantic attempt to push 
his large body off the ground.

Later the boy posed
in his camouflage
holding the turkey by the neck
and later still, looking lovingly at it
hanging from the fence.
Pictures posted on Facebook
before the bird was cold.
Aunts and uncles nationwide
shared the noisy jubilation of the young 
shooter and his father.
Later that night he ate on 
half the gigantic breast
grilled to perfection 
on the family’s backyard barbeque.



I slid the back door open
stepped on to the cement deck
to an audience of a half dozen deer
eating the new green shoots
in the meadow rising from the deck 
to the bordering forest.

The deer closer to the forest
and the steep hill it covered
ran immediately
not waiting to see
if I actually posed a threat
or merely a distraction.

The two nearest me,
they had to be twins—
the same dappled taupe circles
adorning their backs of such light tan
that in the morning looked almost gray—
these two raised their heads
at a slight tilt,
their round brown eyes
quizzical as if listening to my
soft entreaties not to run.
I would not hurt.

They may have been tempted
to stay, but they heard
more than saw
their mothers and siblings
bounding away to the safety of trees.
And (maybe it was my imagination)
they turned and ran regretfully,
seeking their companions
in the safety of the dark forest.


Judith Ramsey Southard is a retired middle school teacher from Mingo County, West Virginia. She loves to read, write, and travel but not always in that order.


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