Michael Pantano

has work in Third WednesdaySan Pedro River Review, The Museum of Americana, Gravel, Flint Hills Review, and elsewhere. He lives and works in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The Rabbit Daughter

One spring day long ago
my husband took a 12 gauge
behind our rented house
and blew his head off,
we’d been married a month
and I’m not ashamed to admit
I didn’t shed one tear
when they closed his casket.

I felt worse years before
when I was ten and dad let me
mow a few flat strips
of lawn (they tried for years
to have a boy), when the mower
found a nest of baby rabbits
in a deep patch
cutting three in half,
clumps of fur and blood
shooting from the blades.

I cried because death
was so sudden and final
and at that age I hadn’t learned
anything beyond how a girl
acts in front of grownups,
and I imagined the mother
coming back from foraging
the day’s haul of sprouts
finding her babies slaughtered,
body parts everywhere,
her little rabbit brain
maybe connecting the dots
of the absolute finality
of the moment, dad
telling me to go inside
while he found a shovel
to scoop the bits and pieces
into a plastic trash bag,
mother giving me an aspirin
tucking me under covers
kissing my clammy forehead,
telling me to stop crying.