don’t let those boys end me. it should be the steps she takes backwards, in retreat from no father’s daughter. it should be the words stuck gummed to crooked teeth like sunflower shells,
the wings of dragonflies we pulled apart as kids. it should be the expectation born blood-eager with carcassed mouth parts twitching, marzipan stars balanced on my back. Ma, my feet are
tired, my braids made me warrior in pursuit of a frost giant. it should be born wolfish, but born smaller. my name the biggest thing about me, Ma. it should be carved black locust ships; i saw
myself in a tree appreciated dead more than alive. fell for she-bear’s teeth: hungry promises. fell for maroon-girl’s scales scraping my ribs: freedom. this red rain gulped me whole, unleashed a
hidden girl in a damp closet. in love with dreaming so they named me knotted almonds; trained my tasty joints to crave frothy sweat or a trout’s soft underbelly. raised to be hunter, not hunted.
pomegranate seeds dyed my lips red, not rabbit blood. it should be hunters holding my leash, sicked on my own sisters. how does one admit to being the prey in season? sicked (verb) to turn
on or attack: used only in commands, as to a dog. to urge (a dog) to attack. it should be the ones that i couldn’t kill, the bullets given to me that burned my own feathers; it should be trying to be
brave. hunters took me screaming to rot, and my only company was dry skin and the prey i’ve saved. Ma, i was alone. it should be hiding salmon poems, ginger kombucha, and short nails.
hiding being a better boy than the real boys. it should be hiding, the slowest way to kill anything. and please don’t let the hunters read this, to know a wolf sits campfire side with a ragged camo
hat, polishing a rifle but never shooting. they thought i was born meat-hungry, man-pleasing. and i must continue this facade to evade a spot on a wall of glassy-antlered sisters. don’t let it end
when i am taken to the woods, almonds in cotton pockets, beginning a trail away from here. clutching smoothly pounded steel, a cylinder muzzle: smelling of bloody girls who kiss girls.
they are taking me hunting, Ma, in the moss my knobby knees ran through. this will be it: crouching behind yellowed grasses, clicking into place, like i never could. safety forced off,
gripping the stock, begging i am the only thing that flinches.
Elizabeth Duke-Moe is a senior in high school in Boise, Idaho. She has spent her youth growing up in the mountains and swimming in the surrounding rivers. She draws a large amount of her writing inspirations in the Sawtooth forests. She loves to travel anywhere as long as she can document trees, and nature is in the majority. She throws pottery in her free time, performs necropsies in Idaho’s Fish and Game genetics lab, and always carries flint and steel. She is the first queer All Student Body President at her high school and a leader of a conservation group working to save endangered Northwest salmon. She loves dill pickle sunflower seeds.