by Susan Tepper
from Meditations on dear Petrov
Set in 19th Century Russia during a time of war
A ripple goes through me as though an arrow meant to capture a boar. I’m hungry, dear Petrov. My frame shakes like the train roaring into the station. What foods will you eat on the battlefield tonight. You never return home looking gaunt. I am a shadow. They must feed you well. I am fearful all the time. For my horse. That the enemy will come over the mountain in purple dusk. Burning the houses. Stealing my horse for slaughter. What then. My last friend in this world. I will be left to die in whatever season. Is this a surprise. You see me each time fading along with the daylight. As a feather you remarked carrying me up the worn stairs. I am worn from the miseries of war. War that cannot sustain any living creature. A war made to nourish the killings and fatten the dead for the maggots to feast. What kind of life have I been called to, dear Petrov. Each day I struggle to lace my boots. To understand the sorrows. I saw a tuft of new green grass along the roadside. It brought me some peace for a moment.
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More about Susan Tepper's widely published work can be found at www.susantepper.com.