Mercy
by ELIZABETH HOOVER


I ran away from home when I was ten.

Walked a couple of days knowing better

than to hitch a ride. The pavement became 

a gravel road lined with trailers. There

I saw a German Shepherd prancing along

the road, flipping a limp animal

over its head like a flag. Its owner came

calling Drop it! The man held the dog

by the collar and showed me a squirming pile

of fur behind a rock. The dog whined

and strained to get at them until the man

dragged him back inside. It seemed to me

there were many things like this, my mother

for example, at the ranger’s station begging

them to drain the lake. I knelt and lifted

each little rabbit into my backpack, their paws

wheeling the air. I nestled them between

my sandwiches, then walked to the city, pausing

only at the bridge where I  tossed the pack

into the water. Then went home and let her

beat me for every day I was gone.


ELIZABETH HOOVER is a freelance writer. She received her MFA student at Indiana University. Her poetry has appeared in RATTLE, The Cimarron Review, The Asheville Poetry Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, and Fourth River. Her awards for poetry include the Poetry Center of Chicago's annual juried reading award,  the Atlanta Review's International Publication Prize, and Winning Writers War Poetry Contest. She has reviewed books for the Los Angeles Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the New York Observer. Her reportage has appeared in Poets & Writers, American Heritage, and LIFE magazine.