I have plans to kill a creature. The best
I can explain it is: I’m afraid. Of what
will be left—a hoof, the jaw, one sun-dried-
soft-as-oats ear. That walking through the woods
next year I’ll find these easy relics
and be reminded that winter trees are
not skeletons, that every metaphor
for death deals in blood and bone and our stunned
approximation of their sudden absence.
What’s the difference between a body
we love and the trappings that make it?
My soldier who returns home without his
hands, the fingers somewhere else still doing
their slow work of pulling a trigger.


Keetje Kuipers’s poetry has appeared most recently in Prairie Schooner, West Branch, Willow Springs, and at the online audio archive From the Fishouse. She lives in Missoula, Montana, with her dog, Bishop.