Sometimes he was rash enough
for her to know something
was wrong. Like, why did he buy a bow?

She took the bow into her hands,
feeling layers of carbon fiber (it could break
and splinter deep shards into outstretched arms,
she read in the bookstore while leaning against self-help
bookshelves which stood across the sporting section)
piling against her palm in thin panes.

One day, he just came
home with a Hoyt, and she said,
who’s Hoyt? She feared

a homosexual affair,
the kind where arrows became phallic
and where men whispered about plungers
guiding shots from the arrow rest.
She learned about fletching and the index,
marking feather strand spines with the tip
of her finger. She skimmed along
his skin like that, too, hoping.

At the range, she watched how bow limbs deformed
with the draw, bending backwards like contortionists. In his grip,
the riser wrestled, a teething beast. His muscles strained
to keep everything straight, but the arrow wobbled.
Archery played upon his heartstrings,

plucked notes like Cupid’s harp vibrating
through the bow’s foam core. A god of winged desire,
sharp gold against the aluminum her husband used.
Such a youth. Do you use protection, she asked,
for your forearm, a guard against the sting
of the bow? Do you use a reverse-twisted string?
Dyneema or Kevlar, I’ve heard, is best.

Sophia Valesca Görgens attended Boston College, where she studied biology and English with a concentration in creative writing. She is currently a medical student at Emory University.

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