Sara Moore Wagner

Miss Annie Oakley, Rifle Shooter, from World’s Champions, Series 1 (N28) for Allen & Ginter Cigarettes 1887
Allen & Ginter, American

Annie Oakley as a First God

Annie Oakley did not lose her father,
she was born bastard and immaculate
from the soil kicked up by the plow, horse
hooves pocking the land in front of her mother’s
little house. The curve of her cheek
mirrored that farmland and the horizon of trees
beyond. She was Midwestern clay
dirt, full of stones and fertile—compact
and rugged. Small, child-like, a new
frontier. Made to rise and walk
the lines of grain and soybeans.
She wrote a new Bible in the margins
of her first Bible, given to her
on her first birthday, next to a dense
chocolate mass of buttercream
and her mother, the fire of the candle
and the hornets outside her window.
There’s heat that comes one day
and bakes everything, bursts
everything open. How else
could a woman aim so straight
and hit every mark, a girl
unfathered as Athena was unmothered,
half girl, half born from skull,
thought into being. Annie Oakley’s mother
fitted her into a bullet casing, fired her
into the trees where she ran
through the sugar maples, helicopter seeds
spiraling around her in great

Sara Moore Wagner is the recipient of a 2019 Sustainable Arts Foundation award, and the author of the chapbooks Tumbling After (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2022) and Hooked Through (2017). Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in many journals including Beloit Poetry Journal, Sixth Finch, and Waxwing.

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Fall 2021