Birth­mark

New England Review - - Explorations -

When ducks come in to land on a lake, they cup their wings in­ward to slow them­selves down. I told her that's what the birth­mark

on the in­side of her right thigh looked like. A drake mal­lard. A wood duck. Its out­line against the sky at day­break. She traced

my kneecap with her fin­ger, said she was try­ing to mem­o­rize ev­ery de­tail of me for when we wouldn't see each other again. I didn't tell her

I was do­ing the same. My fa­ther used to take me bird hunt­ing, back be­fore I moved away. Doves, he said, flew dif­fer­ent from the rest. They didn't

flap their wings quite as fast, or as fran­tic; they flew more smoothly than finches or spar­rows. He made sure I aimed ahead of the tar­get to make up for

the space the bird would fly once I pulled the trig­ger. Lead­ing the bird, he called it. Don't aim for where the bird is, he said, aim for where the bird will be.

Wil­liam Far­ga­son

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