When I visited my Scottish uncle in De Aar, he sat
on the back porch of his cottage with a Winchester,
polished like auburn sex, loaded. When he shook
my hand his finger pressed into my wrist and the vein
tingled while we burned through brush in the silver
Geländewagen, his jokes about taking women in the back
of Woolworths, clearance racks shaking like branches in wind.
When we stopped he told me to shut-up though he was
the one talking. We walked with stilted steps to a hilltop,
brown-freckled antelope below. After the first shot
they scattered, but one, injured, limped with heavy weight.
He handed me the rifle and asked about my mother.

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NICK RIPATRAZONE is the author of two books of poetry, This Is Not About Birds and Oblations, both from Gold Wake Press. His collection of short stories, Good People, is forthcoming from Foxhead Books, and contains fiction that originally appeared in Esquire and The Kenyon Review. His other books include a novella, This Darksome Burn (Queen’s Ferry Press), and a book of literary criticism, The Fine Delight: Postconciliar Catholic Literature (Cascade Books). He is a staff writer at The Millions, and lives in New Jersey with his wife and twin daughters.

One response to “South Africa, 1988”

  1. Brilliant, devastating poem.

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