Because I am finding my way through this fear of routine massacres in America.
Because it is so mysterious to me to raise a son.
Because I really have strong feelings about guns—
here’s a poem:
ON REMAINING NEUTRAL WHILE YOUR FIVE-YEAR-OLD HANDLES A GUN
It takes practice. It must,
to find just the right balance,
the right way to sift, to modulate energy,
attitude, so he won’t walk
back to the car, eyes glued to asphalt,
filled with rapture or
steeped in judgment,
after touching that thing. You want
him to be infused with nothing but sky. The barrel
is propped (mounted, I guess) on the edge
of a Vietnam copter. A boy
in fatigues keeps watch, with a personal
Airsoft lazily tossed beneath the seat
of the vintage machine he’s been left with.
A boy in fatigues. Left with a Vietnam copter.
The gun’s metal is dull, not the sleek shine
your son’s mind was led to expect by the small
doses of gunplay he’s been able to see
in his carefully-crafted home environment.
Softly, softly, he asks, Mom, what’s this?
His small hands lift and lower the gun on
its perch, no sign of bullets, or battle, or death.
A gun, you answer, so cool. His hands flutter
a moment, then return with a question.
It won’t work anymore, you tell him. Again,
so cool. What was it for? For war. Four days
later, up north, one more young man, barely
a man, releases his misplaced white-hot vitriol into the bodies
of students. Your crafted, elusive
equanimity gone, you unloose all your anger
and fear of the gun not in your home (hush!) but on
Facebook. You even piss off your sister-
in-law. The way we can walk with such marked
restraint amidst casual displays of masculine
violence is itself an object of wonder, you think.
And while you lie on your bed, frazzled and knowing
the sweet, twisted, quite normal joy
of kids being kids, while you fervently
wish the NRA could truly be sent
to a hell you know
will never, ever exist, your five-year-old
wanders in. Elbows propped, small hands under chin:
Mom, I really want a dart-gun.
Shit. It takes practice.
© 2015 Amy Elizabeth Robinson