Scouts Honor or Adore
Brennen Wysong

Take a squabbling box of starlings as your mail order bride. Wake in the night to shake hands with your wife lying right next to you in bed. Against a roll of gauze, you will fashion in intricate cross-stitch a grizzly at battle with a swarm of bees that have taken the enraged shape of his shadow above a river. Rubies dripping from the bear's teeth will be done in red thread, the desperate venom in the bees' stings in green, a boy scout among the burning trees in neon pink. Early one morning, you will place a bounty on the hawks unleashed within your family's dovecote. Later that year, you will be bamboozled. Prove yourself a buckaroo. Talk to every stranger. If he ever earns his merit badges, the boy scout will be given the gauze to treat a triage filled with burn victims. The victims will have already been cross-stitched against the gauze with fishing lines, the ends of them dipping in the river beyond the bear, cutthroat trout considering a hand-sewn bait. Flames will be in the shape of wild animals. The victims will be invisible against the gauze then.