Recoil

By Alessandra Gelmi

I heard the first four measures of Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater in my head

A soprano sang, accompanied by flutes

I loaded the rifle

the shells were from Czechoslovakia

There were two of them side by side

A doe and a stag

I shoot with a gloved finger perhaps out of deference held the barrel of

blued steel pulled the trigger

and watched him fall almost human in the brush

Stock-still she stood beside him

ignorant of the violent habits of men Focusing beyond me, as if upon an

apparition She did not blink

wide-eyed as a madonna

Why hadn’t she run?

And so I watched with

an almost percussive remorse the felled stag

flickering with life

All fur, save for a patch

worn off his thick neck

where she had rested her head

for so long,

following his movements, his lead

I realized then, flutes are too thin for sacred music

I realized she was blind

Recoil appears in the poetry collection “Ring Of Fire” by Washington, D.C. resident Alessandra Gelmi, the 7-time national award-winning author of the novel “Who’s Afraid of Red.”

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