James Tate

Wild Beasts

In the front all the weapons were
loaded. We sat there in the dark with
not so much as a whisper. We could hear
sounds outside—skirrs, rasps, the occasional
yap, ting. We were alert, perhaps, too
alert. Ready to shoot a fly for just
being a fly. When you don't sleep you
start to hallucinate and that's not good.
One night this crazy notion started to
possess me: I said, "Who are our enemies
anyhow? We don't have any enemies. What
are we doing here? We should be with our
families doing what families do. I'm laying
down this gun and I'm leaving right now."
I knew there was a chance that one of them
might shoot me. Instead they all laid down
their guns and we walked right out into the moon-
lit night, frightened, now, only of ourselves.