The Sin of Lee Henry and Matilda
Lee Henry Hammond swore he’d kill that bird.
Without a pause, it whip-poor-will’d all night
outside his bedroom window. “It’s a sin
to kill a mockingbird,” Matilda said.
“This bird’s a whippoorwill,” reminded Lee.
He quickly took his rifle from its case.
“Oh, no! don’t shoot the bird,” Matilda begged.
Lee paid no mind and stepped out to the porch.
“Now, go to bed. I can take care of this,”
he said. His wife reluctantly obeyed
but stayed awake in case he needed help.
And soon he yelled, “Matilda, bring a light.”
She ran to him with flashlight shining bright.
Lee pointed to a tree beside the house.
She cast the beam upon an oak tree’s bough.
The light reflected beady, blazing eyes.
Why must I help him kill this whippoorwill,
Matilda thought, but knew the reason why.
Her wedding vows had brought her to this task.
She’d promised to obey and duty-bound
she shut her eyes and shone the glowing light.
Kaboom! The pellets blasted through the leaves.
Wings flapped away to nearby tree of thorns.
Lee grabbed a slingshot, stuck a stone inside.
“Come quick!” he shrieked. “Matilda, shine the light!”
Matilda beamed the ray upon the bird
which called once more before the blow that felled
it from the thorn tree’s highest limb. The thud–
when whippoorwill contacted rocky ground–
caused sudden chills to frost Matilda’s heart.
“It was a sin to kill that whippoorwill!”
She lay awake and worried for their fate.
Lee Henry Hammond smiled himself to sleep.
© Freeda Baker Nichols