Gun Shy by Brittani Howell
She’s looking up at me with big brown eyes
wide with terror,
cowering against my legs.
Dad is kneeling with his hands outstretched.
It’s okay, he says. It’s okay.
She’s shaking. I’ve got one hand buried in her fur,
trying to calm her down.
It’s the noise, Dad says. She doesn’t like it.
I don’t like it much, either.
She won’t be much of a bird dog, I guess.
I’m quiet as he lifts the gun out of the long grass
and we all start to tramp back across the field.
The cool, tranquil silence is gone,
and the shot is still ringing in our ears.
The first sound of the morning
has shattered it.
She’s sticking close to me, where it’s safe.
She doesn’t like sudden moves:
the quick approach,
the hand raised without warning
even if it means no harm.
She hates too-friendly strangers
and she hates the loud noise,
the fuss, the fanfare.
She hates that gun,
the rigid way it points.
But she’s cautious, not cowardly.
Now she’s loping through the grass like it didn’t happen,
Sniffing things, wagging her curly tail.
She’s happy with us, her friends.
She trusts us.
I wonder if she was hurt by it all, before she came to us.
And I can understand that. Can’t blame her for it.
I whisper, Me too, little girl. Me too.