I murdered a frog, once.
Flung a stone and spattered it to pieces.
Then wanted desperately to take it back, rewind time just a few moments.
Back before the other boys laughed and threw their stones, cajoled me to throw mine.
“Get him!” “Get him!”
I should have thrown wide, deliberately.
Or, better, I shouldn’t have picked up the stone.
Or, best, I shouldn’t have spent time with boys like those.
I murdered a bird, once.
Raised the rifle, shattered it to feathers
Then wondered, disbelieving what I had done.
As the other boys congratulated me.
“Great shot!” “Nice one!”
We were hunting squirrels, not songbirds.
And I wondered why I had done it.
And I aimed to miss the rest of day.
I killed a deer, once.
I missed more often.
As the other boys consoled me.
“Too bad. “Next time.”
I did not consciously miss them. (I did not aim to miss.)
I think my conscience missed them. (I might have aimed, amiss.)
And still remorse hunting for a purpose, for venison.
I killed a pastime.
Let it go, watched it drift.
Let my father believe I wasn’t interested.
Let him think, like the other boys, that I was too good for it, anymore.
“City boy.” “College boy.”
Every bit of that is true, of course.
But, mostly, I remember the frog and the bird.
And the truth is, I’m not the killing type.