Back to Issue Twenty-Two.

the air gun & the stuffed pony



  at the Virginia Military Institute Museum in Lexington, VA

It may not be his & yet it may – the gun
Lewis carried from Philidelphia
to the Pacific, the one he called

great medicine & set off, smokeless,
pneumatic, sans muzzle flash &
gunpowder cloud, flintlock-free

& firable in rain, to amaze
the natives & which he accidentally
shot through the hat of a passerby,

grazing her temple, before the
expedition had even departed.
It gleams behind glass. Yes, I think

it beautiful, but in the way of true
tools: the tale of its travels,
the hands that touched it. Speaking

of tools, I can’t help but wonder how
often they run the vacuum in that
glass case above my head, where

stands Stonewall Jackson’s stuffed
pony Little Sorrell, who lived long
after Jackson’s death first as a POW,

then a tourist attraction at southern
fairs & rebel reunions, at the end
held up for visitors in his feebleness

by a sling round his belly, till the sling
slipped, Sorrell fell to the floor, & broke
his back. Fortunately you don’t need

a horse’s bones to stuff him. His
skeleton’s ashes lie buried at his
master’s feet, while his hide dims

under museum lights, the tufted
hair released in gentle molting,
its decay wholly, holy, despite delay.


Corrie Williamson is the author of Sweet Husk, which won the 2014 Perugia Press Prize and was a finalist for the Library of Virginia Poetry Award. Her poems have appeared in The Missouri Review, AGNI, West Branch, Verse Daily, Bright Bones: Contemporary Montana Writing, and other venues. She is currently at work on a manuscript of poems that travels between early 19th century Virginia and St. Louis, and modern day Montana, where she lives. It is probably called The River Where You Forgot My Name, but it might instead be called Mastodon. There are a lot of large dead mammals in it, after all. Find her at

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