A Certain Stretch of Road

By Ivan Young

I held the V of a slingshot the length
of the band, forearm tensed, eye closed.

It seemed like all day I stood wondering
about death, whether I could trust instinct,

or had I failed already; in the ecstasy of release,
I knew the truth. I set the stone tumbling,

became an awkward periphery–the feathered body
half in shadow, my boyish arms still stretched

as if beseeching for something I couldn’t
tell you even now. The rock alive between

us, out of control, unknown, turning
in some inevitable physical law. The ending

was subdued: a hollow thump, the way down
stuck to the blood on my hands as I traced

the wound on the sparrow’s side. Even
as I pushed the glistening intestines in place.

The wings quivered in my palm, the yard
as empty as it would ever be, and I dropped

the dying bird into jimson weed before I turned
and kicked a stone up the road, the stretch

where weeds sang dirges, where dust and honeysuckle
masked the horse manure hanging in the air.


Ivan Young was born in Columbia, SC and lived there for 32 years before moving to Pennsylvania and then Maryland. He received his M. F. A. in Creative Writing from the University of South Carolina. Author of A Shape in the Waves and a 2011 winner of a Maryland Individual Artist Award, his work has most recently been published in Crab Orchard Review, Barnwood, The London Magazine, and Blue Mesa Review.

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