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by julia bouwsma



Weasel my white throat wrapped by a white scarf. Weasel my winter,

my swaddling, my bandage—the gauze-stitch suture needed to repair the gash

in the throat left by a roulette of teeth, weasel who cartwheels through

the air mouth open to the take, who is a Jackson Pollack of chicken blood

across the snout. Weasel our collective hunger, weasel my singular bloodlust.

Like you I was born animal—born to the fluff and fear of the den,

born with a black eye to bead on my prey, born in marrow

and gristle, one in a line of conquerors, hunted, hated by farmers, prized

for your pelt. Weasel sleek, weasel relentless. Weasel a fat field mouse

between your jaws as you plunge the fallow field. Weasel you curl

an innocence at the top of the woodpile, peek out between

the dark logs. Weasel watch the swinging axe. Weasel

every tooth relentless. Weasel my silence. Weasel an accounting

of all my crimes in the black ink that spills and pools the end

of your tail. Weasel bites without fear the boot that pins. Weasel’s neck

defies the falling rifle butt. Weasel will always kill more than it can haul.

Weasel leave the frozen hens to stiffen in the coop. Weasel return

the next night. Weasel there is never enough blood. Weasel the hot,

weasel the warm, weasel our thirst. Weasel a whole river

of thirst. Weasel I taste the trickling across my own muzzle.

Weasel the dropped bullet, the pine shavings, the trembling

fingers reload. Weasel my black gleaming is your 

black gleaming. Weasel I recognize this as I cock the rifle, weasel

as I aim. Weasel as I finger on the trigger and pull.

Julia Bouwsma lives off-the-grid in the mountains of western Maine, where she is a poet, farmer, editor, and small-town librarian. She is the author of two poetry collections: Midden (Fordham University Press, 2018) and Work by Bloodlight (Cider Press Review, 2017). Honors she has received include the 2019 and 2018 Maine Literary Awards,the 2016-17 Poets Out Loud Prize, and the 2015 Cider Press Review Book Award. Her poems and book reviews have appeared in Cutthroat, Grist, Poetry Daily, Poetry Northwest, RHINO, River Styx, and other journals. She serves as Library Director for Webster Library in Kingfield, Maine.

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