Half-dead, hit by a car, the whole of its form
a jiggle of nerves, like a fish on a lawn.
To help finish it off, he asked me to stand
on its throat, as a friend might ask a friend
to hold, with a finger, the twist of a knot.
Then he lifted its head, wheeled it about
by the ammonite, handlebar shells of its horns
till its eyes, on stalks, looked back at its bones.
After the weapon had drawn blood for the first time
it happened to change. Scales developed along the blade
and the point fanned out to the shape of a tail.
With fins at the hilt and the handle sprouting a head
it started to writhe and twitch, its gills pumping the air
for something to breathe, so I carried it down to the shore.
It was dawn and the women were there, combing for driftwood,
marking the graves of the men killed in the war.