Struck but not down
they climb the hill in staggering gait.
Drops of red mark their panicked ascent and
melt away white into pink and lavender holes.
Fell now but struggling to recover
tan legs flail as shards of bone puncture skin.
They snort clouds in the cold.
Bellows do erupt.
Their wild eyes seek to catch a glimpse
of those the metal only grazed.
The hill they climbed and where they fell stands bare.
No brush to blanket their shivering pain
or tree to canopy the early morning chill.
Fatigue descends as pain defeats
the crumpled forms release.
From a distance they lie broken
limbs jutting forth in strange puzzles
as the sun rips open the horizon.
The first fire of yellow, orange and red spreads across the cold expanse
crawls over the lifeless forms
into the open eyes.
They are still
so still those pools of amber.
Those they leave behind stand vigil
shaking from the violence they avoided.
They must move on.
They must find cover.
Light in the early morning air they spring into the wood.
S. L. Schultz lives in Michigan and teaches college composition. She has written in a variety of genres, including plays, screenplays, poetry and novel. She has published poetry and her plays have been produced in San Francisco and Chicago. Her first novel, Little Shadow, book one of a trilogy, was published last year.