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Armed
Amy M. Clark (bio)

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?

 

 

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