Sarah Lao

Hunting Ground

          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

                         the forsaken.

     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.