I was eleven. My father and Dr. Jackson took their sons pheasant hunting.
Dad and Dr. Jackson were about forty yards away in the Autumn stubble of a corn field. A pheasant took flight. They aimed and fired and missed. The pheasant flew toward me. I led it a few feet ahead in my sight and pulled the trigger. The pheasant went limp in the air. I felt an ancient exultation.
But in the two seconds it took the shot pheasant to plummet earthward, then thud against the ground, dead, I experienced an inner transformation of 10,000 years. That feathered thing of air fell down, but I was falling too, from power to grief to shame...
Yes, I was only eleven. But I pledged to my secret heart that I would never use a gun again. I have not told this story until now.
I'm sorry. Forgive me. Thank you.
Painting: Dead Pheasant, J.M.W. Turner