we find him rubbed in ash,
tiny leg torn up in a bear trap
he’s got his spindle fingers wrapped white
against the hilt of a makeshift sword,
waving it furiously
lip trembling in the breeze
half child, half death dance.
we inch towards him,
cooing, saying words he doesn’t understand
trying to soften his murder.
he kills one of us, and we almost abandon him,
but something inside of keeler won’t shut off;
the boy is seven, eight tops
and he’s dying of hunger in that clamp.
eventually we manage to get our compassion inside of his heart,
our fingers inside of that trap
and we set the boy free
he follows us, having nowhere else to go,
it takes a year, but we teach him english
and how to skin a rabbit
he still sleeps with that makeshift sword,
carries the jaw of that bear trap around his neck like a grotesque
necklace, steel history
on what we suppose to be his ninth birthday,
we ask him to pick a name for himself.
he says cutter
he insists upon it.
some of us can’t help but giggle.