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Eaten Up by Wolves

He was in my sights
for what seemed like
a full minute . . .

I saw him smile,
and my mind tried
to give him a history,

you know, a mom,
or kids, a wife
and a home missed,

but I stopped myself,
for he was the enemy,
and I could not dwell

on his blue eyes, or
his youth, or his future
promise; instead I forced

my index finger to squeeze
as carefully as I had been
taught, and my bullet

shattered his forehead,
but my own eyes did not
close in time to avoid

his look of stunned death.
I knew this picture would
change me forever . . .

for I had killed my own
youth, my own eyes,
and what is killed can

never be exactly reborn.

The removal of the Sac and Fox Indians of Illinois culminated in the Black Hawk War (Abraham Lincoln served as an officer in this conflict, but did not see combat). At Chief Black Hawk's defeat and capture, the Indian leader made a final speech, saying, "Black Hawk has done nothing for which an Indian ought to be ashamed. He has fought for his countrymen, the squaws and papooses, against white men, who came year after year to cheat them and take away their lands . . . An Indian who is as bad as a white man could not live in our nation; he would be put to death and eaten up by wolves."

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