Brittany Mason is currently a sophomore at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her award-winning work has appeared in In Medias Res and Creative Communications Young Poet's Anthology.
Read more about what inspires Brittany.
Archery Trophies for My Father
I stared down the wooded lane,
or rather down the neon sights
resting seventeen inches
from the bridge of my nose,
and concentrated on four arrows
already centered in a tiny, black ring.
My shoulder blades graced each other
as my taut muscles strained
to hold perfect posture
mandated by wooden blocks on the ground
and my father’s dirty hand on my back.
The string’s kisser on my cheek was all that I felt
when my finger finally relaxed on the release
and half my breath leaked slowly
onto the fletchings.
This same breath accompanied every sport
I had ever tried my hand at
in the vain attempt to earn a trophy
for my totalitarian father.
From the moment I could hold a gun,
I practiced the techniques
of accurate breathing
and extreme concentration
so that I, too, could take down a buck
and earn that smile of approval-
which could not be earned by
juvenile art projects, songs, or stories.
There’s nothing like the whistle
of an arrow speeding fifty yards
in an instant mixed with the pride
of a father who feels nothing
towards his own genetic replication.
It was the target ahead of me
that contained the parental affection
I had sought after for years.
And each thump of the arrow
was a beat of his heart for me.
So until my arms could not hold
the tension and the terror,
and my eyes could not focus
on the wavering pinpoints
dancing in my neon sight,
I would continue to take my aim
and pray to believe he came close
enough to convince myself
that there is something more to love
than working for attention.