Sprung to Atlantic air, a boy.
Show him your face, bring him
your smell. Feed him your milk.
Dispatch the surgeon. Now
and forever. Already he seeks
your pleasure. Clap for him. You give it.
Today my baby would not sleep.
He arched and fought within himself,
careening from fatigue.
I secured him in his infant seat
and drove through bedroom towns
until he nodded off. And even then
I stayed the course, past mailboxes
and maple woods, election signs,
and mounds of rotting leaves,
propelled by public radio,
half asleep myself, at least
not carrying, not singing.
I parked beside a general store
and went inside, floorboards creaking.
I drank a cup of coffee while browsing
through the postcard rack,
just a gal thinking of someone
to send a message to
or not, while locked in the car my son—
Fast asleep. And I, scaring
out of reverie, still driving
of course. Then I heard the news.
Somewhere not far from here—
as everywhere was not too far
—at the Machine Gun Shoot
and Firearms Expo, a boy,
age 8, aimed and fired
a 9mm micro submachine gun
at a pumpkin, and while his dad reached
for a camera, as the gun recoiled
the boy lost control and shot himself in the head.
I pulled into a parking lot
and craned to view my passenger,
his eyelids without a flutter, lavender.
He held a yellow plastic bale of hay
he’d chosen from his farm set,
the rounded shape just right
for his untrained palm, discovering
the pleasure in having something to keep.
Or so I decided, and let him hold it,
because it was my pleasure, after all,
in a small and cherished thing,
small enough to swallow actually
but large enough to lodge in the throat
and what would I say to his father
when my car came home without him,
the world fallen from my hands?