In the Wheat Field

New England Review - - Table of Contents - Kevin Prufer

“It's your rab­bit,” the of­fi­cer told the soldier who pointed his ri­fle at the flee­ing en­emy child. The child was quick in the wheat, so it took three shots be­fore he tum­bled into the af­ter­life. Many years later I put down my book about the war and walk un­der the oaks' black branches to where the snow has capped all the cars in the ele­men­tary school park­ing lot. The rooftops glit­ter meanly. I have never killed any­thing and look at me. I am like the boss of hell. In the silent movie, the moon took a rocket to the face and never stopped smil­ing. Tonight its ashes scat­ter over the rooftops. No, snow. Of all the peo­ple he mur­dered, that soldier could not for­get how the child swayed a mo­ment in the wheat be­fore dis­ap­pear­ing un­der the sea of it. I once found a bul­let cas­ing right here on this side­walk and, not far from it, a stain. How could I not imagine the rest of that story? The cars grow cool and dire in the park­ing lot, and the sodium lights hum like enor­mous in­sects. The soldier wrote a whole book about what he had done, but it didn't help. Come on and snow all over me, come on and shower me with ash. The sky is bone. The moon is a hole in some­body's skull.

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