She gave him time to assess her, pick his spot,
steady his .22 over his horse’s shoulder;
she stared back, fearful as a timid girl
at a dance. He squeezed. Pop. She shuddered.
His Khoisans leapt like dogs, cut her throat
before she fell. He followed at a walk, found her
bleeding, flayed. A perfect entrance wound,
no ghastly exit. Too light a gun? Not for him.
Millennia they’ve been hunted here, and multiplied;
graceful, faster than lions, smelling water
and succulent grass in this barren plain of death,
but sadly stupid under the sights of Man.
Sentient souls are limned in their fluid eyes.
When were such as they driven from Paradise?
The looks they shot him — resentment? bad blood?
They tied her hocks to a pole, carried her, dripping,
to the cookhouse. Evatjie took the cuts she favored,
sending them away with guts and sinewy scraps.
Supper by lamplight: springbok, fresh from the kill,
buttery sweet potato in his chair by the window.
She waited, aromatic, bare-breasted; took his plate.
“Why do the KhoiSan hate me so, Evatjie?”
She fetched lager and loquats, squeezed into his chair.
“They say your fathers hunted their fathers and mothers
like baboons — sir.” “You know Griquas hunted them,
Evatjie, not white men. And I’m American, damn it.
Evatjie sniffed and sucked a loquat seed.
The white man’s burden: never did make sense.
Miamisburg, Ohio, 2012