Mar alvaray






Your father takes you hunting in late fall

Heavy animal furs draped over both your shoulders

Almost too much for the light weather.

Your weak legs cause you to stall

So he tells you not to be an inconvenience any further

And he crouches, left hand on the leather


Of the old shotgun that had found its way to him.

In the underbrush you wait for hours

But no creature is there, not a single sound.

Your father stretches, then retracts every limb

You fear that his mood might have soured

And he tells you a story while you wait around.


He holds up his right hand, missing three fingers,

And says he lost them to a bear attack.

He scolds you when you lose your balance.

Many summers past and many winters

Ago, many years and solstices back

Your father and his siblings honed their talents


In the art of hunting. There was a great

Bear in the forest, and the bear was his father.

The bear taught them to hunt and to survive.

However, kindness was a difficult trait

For the bear. You decide you would rather

Not hear the rest of the story. Your father strives


To continue: Once when he and his siblings were playing

And the bear caught them in the childish act

The blame was placed onto your father as the eldest

And the bear, despite your father’s praying

Decided to test his strength and attacked.

You try to cover your ears. In a turn of events that had not felt just


Your father lost his three fingers, but he was incensed

That his younger brother suffered no repercussions.

With his fingers still bleeding stumps 

And the bear still bloodthirsty from the rich scent

Of meat, he grabbed his brother and threw him, both sons

Screaming, one in anger, one in fear, both trapped like helpless pups.


The brother lost his arm that day, your father finishes his tale

And he laughs a joyful laugh at the boy’s demise.

You do not like your uncle very much

But even so your face grows pale

At the cruelty your father makes no effort to hide.

Seeing the fear on your face, nauseous like you’ve been punched


Your father’s face contorts to anger

Hunting knife driven into your thigh

And blood dripping onto dry leaves.

But when you look back down at the dagger

There was nothing there. Your trousers are dry

And clean. Your father looks at you with concern as you fiddle with your sleeves.


When you get back home, having shot a deer,

Your father’s hunting knife was on the table the whole time.

Your thigh, though never wounded, still aches

And pounds, your blood rushing all you hear.

Your fingers bleed from how long you spend cleaning the grime

And you doubt your own mind as you patch up your scrapes.

27 February, 2021

Mar Alvaray (they/he) is a nonbinary lesbian writer and artist from Venezuela. They use artistic mediums to tackle their complicated and uncharted mental landscape. He can be found on Twitter @bigand_small.