The Ballad of Santiago and Little Julie Ann

Other than mud for her feet to kiss,
there was nothing else but the bullet—
a bullet none greater than an ear of corn
made itself familiar, with her heart as home.

Miranda’s breathing smelled oddly of chestnuts,
little Julie Ann thought, as her mother heaved
a half-forced smile while whispering softly,
‘Do not cry, Julie Ann, do not weep.’

The little one tried to hold back her tears
for she knew what it meant to be alone:
she remembered last summer when Timmy was mauled
by a pack of wolves, and had to say good-bye.

So Julie Ann ran, left her mother to die,
and she promised herself she would never cry.

*

Ten feet away, in a clearing, Santiago
bathed in sweat, that he cursed the sun.
In the glare, he saw little Julie Ann sprinting
from across a river to attempt an escape.

Santiago embraced his ready rifle
and trained its sight on her slender youth.
He took a deep breath,
and then pulled the trigger—

*

Little Julie Ann was
in mid-gallop
when the gunshot rang and filled the air.
And like rushing death, the bullet sped
and caught Julie Ann square in the chest.

With a lifeless ‘thud,’ on the grass she fell;
her chest spewing blood, like her mother’s did.
But unlike Miranda, she saw no need
to force a smile, nor keep a promise.

And she whispered, ‘Dear Mother,
is this how you felt?’

Little Julie Ann painted
the grassland red.

Little Julie Ann cried
’til she met her end.

*

At that moment, Santiago
was quite pleased with himself;
even lit a cigar
for a job well done.
He packed up his rifle
and carried his bags
with a satisfied smile
as the deer went down.

— A. P.

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