Last summer, I found myself running lost
through the forest—pine trees spearing open the sky,
the heavens splitting and collapsing like a
puddle over soil. I was alone.
And it started as something only to pass the time:
Me, whittling the tree-bark crusting over my sides,
Me, carving a loop of tongue
with a fingernail, Me, shaving my spinal cord for
something to fill my quiver. And before I knew it,
hunting came to me as naturally as prayer to
Rabbit feet stranded over my neck, I silvered my hair to shards
and drew switchblades over the malice of antlers.
For dinner, I pierced the soft pinkness of tendon with my teeth and
cut blessings from the marrow. Every hunt
was a sacrifice, a sacrament. A sin.
And once, when I nocked arrows at a birdflock,
sinking well over a dozen, my body coughed feathers
before shrinking light and free.
I’ll confess: every funeral was ritual.
At night I was stuffing squirrels and robins into little
makeshift coffins but really,
all I ever wanted was to cover my face, lying buried
and forgotten in the grave’s empty bottom.
Sarah Lao is a sophomore at the Westminster Schools in Atlanta, Georgia. She has been recognized by Zo Magazine's Teen Media Expo and is forthcoming in the Eunoia Review. She currently serves as a first reader at Polyphony HS and as an editor for Evolutions Magazine.