The Sacrifice

by Alex Pickens

The cormorant glides,
oil slick shadow
on the flawless lake,

sending glass ripples
through arrowheads
that tremble, marshland

hoplites rattling spears
to defend shores
from submerged hunters:

the leviathan
angling downward,
a rippling black flag.

Red-wing scouts cry out,
the wraith breaches,
crescent fish speared,

like Moses’ staff raised—
animals gaze
with wonderstruck eyes

on the sacrifice
giving them life
in the wilderness.


Alex Pickens grew up in the Appalachian mountains of Virginia, where he spent his spare time reading the Classics, hiking, and fingerpicking folk music. He is a friend of bears and nature and a direct descendant of a Revolutionary War general nicknamed ‘The Wizard Owl.’

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