My father owned his guns for this:
time in a Pocono meadow, his empty Coke cans
on a saw horse, we three kids beside him, grass
ebbing at our legs, admiring his aim.
That day, I held a rifle, eager to slap
a hole onto aluminum. But Dad fired first.
Drilled into metal. Then he helped me
steady the barrel, showing me how to peer
through the sights, as if through a keyhole,
and point at my target. I missed, plunging
lead into the oak tree in the distance. Again
and again. Shaking the leaves like raccoons
rattling branches. Dad said maybe he was getting
in the way. Told me to try it by myself. So I knelt,
leveled the long black shaft as tassels of grass
lapped my hands. Squeezed the trigger.
And dropped. Heard nothing but sirens
squealing in my head. Couldnít hear my dad calling
my name or my brother and sister shouting.
Just saw mouths moving above me
as I sank beneath the green sea,
pressing my ears as if the ringing were water
pouring in. I thought Iíd never hear again.
They thought much worse.
But it was just ten minutes of deafness.
Ten minutes of the world drowned out
by the noise inside my head. And when the din
diminished, when I answered, finally, Iím OK,
we laid our weapons down, picked up brass
casings from the ground. And a meadowlark plunged
into the grass, its yellow flute deep within
whistling after us as we left.