Sestina for a Hunter | Emily Pollock

Contains references to animal death and bloody imagery

Smeared with your fingers, the blood
clings to the curves of your pretty mouth,
sweetness pulled from the meat of a rabbit
from the richred veins of its beating heart;
you wash your face, hands cupped, in the stream
and form a prayer to the rabbit, a song.

Wind presses through the forest song—
like, a pulse of the world, a blood.
like veins, the life of the forest is the stream
which you greedily cut open and lift to your mouth.
The flesh of the world feeds your own small heart
cut open, hunting and seeking another rabbit.

In another leaf-soaked hollow you find the rabbit
and clutch it by its foot, your knife a song
of tendon and marrow until it reaches the heart.
Your hands cup its fragile body, the blood
running to the uncertain earth which opens like a mouth.
You kneel with its animal body watching the blood, a stream.

Autumn slips through the days you count by the leaves on the stream;
you carve charms from the bones of the rabbit
and let your furwrapped feet carry you to the water’s mouth.
the stream spills from the rocks carving a song
that sounds like your veins full of blood,
rabbit-like. You press your cheek to the beating heart.

Tangled stony tree-roots cup handlike the heart
of the forest. You climb the tree, your feet hanging in the stream
of cold air wrapping around the bark. Lungs that feed your blood
gulp the aching breeze, your gaze of a rabbit
watching the leaves sing the chorus of a song.
The words you don’t quite forget cling to your mouth.

The taste of rabbit blood and stream water cling to your mouth-
The veins that feed your body like the forest feeds your heart.
Rabbits do not sing but their bones play a song,
one that flows from your lips as a stream,
your own cold bones remember those of the rabbit,
your blood its blood, the earth’s blood, the life-blood.

Your mouth tells your throat that it is a stream
of your body, your heart beats like the rabbit’s
and your blood remembers its song.


Writer’s Commentary

Sestina for a Hunter was written as my practicing the sestina poem form.


Emily Pollock is an undergraduate student of history at Boston College. She gains the majority of her writing inspiration from her studies and her long-term passion for history. As a high school student, she received multiple honors from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. She also published with and edited her school’s literary magazine. As a current full-time college student, she dedicates her writing ability to many, many historiography papers and some poems on the side just for fun. She was most recently published in The Laughing Medusa at Boston College. She is sometimes located on Twitter @crowsnestgirl and on Instagram @middlenamekendall.

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