Machine-Gun the Birdwatchers
Grant Munroe

We built a hide in the reeds by the salt marsh. We cupped cigarettes inside fingerless gloves and ate Chinese from cartons. We tipped the delivery boy well. We swept the horizon with binoculars.
Then, there --
The hide erupted, thundered, dust falling from the roof as the Browning kicked, brass spilling.
It was winter. In the winter, by unspoken agreement, they all wear black. A ribbon of splashing water arced across the marsh. It rested on the birdwatchers. They shook, standing, taken with bullets. They shook and shook and shook. From them, as we'd expected, came flying not blood and dark gore and ripped black cloth but an issue of birds, in plume, on wing. We watched and wrote as the fire rained forth, their names as they flew forth, in order.

the jay
the finch
the magpie
the swallow
the sparrow
the robin
the cormorant
the shrike
the purple martin
the red-eyed vireo
the sedge wren
the bohemian waxwing
the indigo bunting
the horned grebe
the hooded merganser
the greater scaup
the hiberian ganzvogel
the roundkneed skeat
the painted loutlin
bucephela abeola
botaurus lentiginosus
coccothraustes vespertinus
junco hyemalis carolinensis
colinus virginianus ridgwayi
cathartes aura septentrionalis

. . . .

The list goes on. Our munitions infinite.