I Shot a Frog I Shot a Bird

New England Review - - Table of Contents - C. K. Wil­liams

I shot a frog

It had been squat­ting ap­par­ently wait­ing for some­thing per­haps the end of the world I thought from its ob­sti­nate still­ness on a rock at the edge of a tiny pond I'd say no more than a yard edge to edge

The frog was small too not one of those big bulls that lurk in the reeds by a lake who can scare you so solemn they are so sure of them­selves their fat selves with their down-turned mouths and great oinks

I shot the frog the very small frog with a Winch­ester .22 cal­iber ri­fle be­cause there was noth­ing else to shoot there right then or noth­ing but an inan­i­mate tar­get and how bor­ing that had be­come mean­ing­less thwacks into wood once or twice splin­ters and the thing was half blasted apart so so what?

Then there was the frog and my ri­fle lifted it­self as though by it­self aimed as though by it­self fired as though by it­self and the frog


the frog van­ished not even a splash or sprin­kle of blood not even a cloud of blur the way com­put­ers do it these days for films just gone dis­ap­peared van­ished ka­put

frog no frog

I wasn't pleased this was not as I'd planned it

I'd shot the frog be­cause I wanted to shoot the ri­fle again some­one had loaned me to amuse my­self with

I'd al­ready felt the sub­tle pain­less jolt in my shoul­der each time it went off that very be­nign but def­i­nite crack in more than your ear

you sense it in the drum of your chest in the tan­gle even of your groin noth­ing like pain noth­ing re­ally like pain but a def­i­nite crack a def­i­nite


I shot a bird

This was an­other year though the same ri­fle the same per­son let­ting me use it

He was sick in bed noth­ing se­ri­ous a slight fever he just couldn't go out I re­mem­ber there was noth­ing to do so we took the ri­fle out of the closet and a bunch of those in­con­se­quen­tial ap­pear­ing bul­lets hardly half an inch long and shot out the win­dow first at a pa­per tar­get I stuck on a tree but that was bor­ing

then he had a model plane he'd made as a kid hang­ing from his ceil­ing of his bed­room and I sug­gested what about that and he said why not he was over that kid stuff


so I hung the plane some war plane a Messer­schmitt maybe from a branch in the tree and we were go­ing to take turns but on my first shot my bul­let blew it apart noth­ing was left but a string sway­ing noth­ing to shoot but the string and who shoots at string?

Then a spar­row I think or a lark I can't bring it back quite so long ago was it I only pic­ture some com­mon spar­row or lark flit­ter­ing down to the branch next to the one the plane had hung from

and my ri­fle still in my arms as they will as I've men­tioned they will lifted it­self aimed it­self for I had such in­com­pe­tent aim my hands would trem­ble the sight-thing on the ri­fle's far-end would swing back and forth and al­most al­ways I'd miss ex­cept with that frog

And now this bird

Fool­ish thing to have stopped there right then fool­ish thing to land there and stay there how long half an in­stant on that branch and the gun went off as they will and the jolt jolted my shoul­der and the bird fell

It didn't van­ish though as had the frog it didn't take it­self out of the world it just had no head any longer it lay on the ground whole but head­less

Do you be­lieve me? There was no head on that bird only a body head­less there­fore fright­en­ing there­fore re­pul­sive

Bro­ken clump in the dirt wings tucked into its body as though it still lived flight­less and bro­ken in the dirt al­most the same color as dirt

Or so I re­mem­ber I'm not mak­ing it up I swear ev­ery­thing else here is true so why would I make up a bird?

Haven't I proved I aimed a gun shot a gun had fun with a gun?

Had fun with a gun with a gun?

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