Mother Love

Something spooked the pony and he ran
My little sister atop, clinging to the saddle horn
With all her nine-year-old might until she lost her grip
And bounced away, a tumbleweed of flying hair and limbs.
Mother set her mouth and went inside. She came back
With the four-ten, sighted and squeezed the trigger. Shot him.
The pony staggered, wild-eyed, stunned,
And even from where I stood, I could feel his fear,
See the holes in his hide, down his neck and flanks, hundreds
Of eyes running red, obscene and bloody. I cried.
Shut up, she said, he had it coming, and lowered the gun.
I brought him back and rinsed his wounds with tears
And iodine, feeling his skin jerk and tremble beneath my
Tender ministrations.

by Deborah Cameron

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