May/June 2022 • Vol. XLIV No. 3 Nature’s NatureMay 16, 2022 |

Mercy Me

said the womenfolk where I was raised, and in my mind mercy was a verb, the action reflexive. Though of course the wolf in the kingdom of winter does not mercy the elk. The owl does not mercy the hare that has trembled loose from its delicate coat of stillness. The word has been used since the twelfth century to mean God’s forgiveness of his creatures’ offenses. Such mercy is not what my father had in mind when he asked me to take a pistol to live in the wilderness. I didn’t. That was not how I imagined my days, strapping its cold weight to my hip, a saunter to the river: Good morning larkspur, good morning death camas and moon- flower: I am more deadly than you. Would I slip it into the crook of the quince tree while I crouched to weed kale? And would I, after all, shoot a bear eclipsing my doorway? Would I shoot a man? Back home, another gun in the safe where my bedroom dresser used to s

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Corrie Williamson is the author of the poetry collections The River Where You Forgot My Name (Crab Orchard Series/Southern Illinois University Press, 2019), a finalist for the Montana Book Award, and Sweet Husk (Perugia Press, 2014). Her recent work appears or is forthcoming in Southern Review, Common, Copper Nickel, and 32 Poems. Williamson lives in Montana, where she is working on her third manuscript, Your Mother’s Bear Gun.

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