I found and flushed and shot a partridge.
The dog fetched it, still half-alive until
I put my thumb beneath its chin
then popped its neck like so many cans of soda.
I stuffed it in the game pouch of my vest.
For an hour it ticked out life’s nervous coda:
Heat spread under my skin,
spurs twitched against my spine.
So for years my heart’s vulgar plumage,
the lies and guilt I kill, then pocket.