Summer Camp


Plastic feathers zip past his index,
leave a mark, a burn, a long slow blister.
You tell him to change his grip, show him
a better way to keep it steady. He imagines

the small yellow circle is a squirrel’s
head. Never hits it, but it keeps him focused. You say,
stop trying so doggone hard—breathe in, take aim,
release the string without thinking so much.

Soon he’s got it. Lets go of his desire to win,
as you call it. Tells himself a cluster of arrows
ain’t shit. Sometimes, when they whiz past the bale
you let out a long oooohhhhh. Makes him smile.

Sometimes you say yes in a whisper, like yes, yes,
so only he can hear. He figures you know best,
closes his eyes and feels the vibration of the neck
snapping back to its original shape, hears the tip slap

deep into an outer ring, then again as one hits the line
of an inner blue. Once, this boy shot directly at the sun—
everyone took cover. You snatched the bow from his hands
and said what, are you an idiot? A fucking retard or something?

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