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Personal Choice 88

Daybreak: the household slept.

I rose, blessed by the sun.

A horny fiend, I crept

out with my father's gun.

Let him dream of a child

obedient, angel-mind-

old no-sayer, robbed of power

by sleep. I knew my prize

who swooped home at this hour

with day-light riddled eyes

to his place on a high beam

in our old stables, to dream

light's useless time away.

I stood, holding my breath,

in urine-scented hay,

master of life and death,

a wisp-haired judge whose law

would punish beak and claw.

My first shot struck. He swayed,

ruined, beating his only

wing, as I watched, afraid

by the fallen gun, a lonely

child who believed death clean

and final, not this obscene

bundle of stuff that dropped,

and dribbled through the loose straw

tangling in bowels, and hopped

blindly closer. I saw

those eyes that did not see

mirror my cruelty

while the wrecked thing that could

not bear the light nor hide

hobbled in its own blood.

My father reached my side,

gave me the fallen gun.

'End what you have begun.'

I fired. The blank eyes shone

once into mine, and slept.

I leaned my head upon

my father’s arm, and wept,

owl blind in early sun

for what I had begun.

Gwen Harwood

I don’t think poetry gets much better than this. Ever!

What mastery over this whole complex tragedy and

what a redemptive resolution to the piece.


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