Accidental
 
 
Backfire

 
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.
 






Copyright 2007,  Julie L. Moore

Julie L. Moore is the author of Slipping Out of Bloom (WordTech Editions), and the chapbook "Election Day" (Finishing Line Press).  She has twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and received the Rosine Offen Memorial Award from the Free Lunch Arts Alliance,  the Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize from Ruminate,  and the Judson Jerome Poetry Scholarship from the Antioch Writers' Workshop.    Recent work has appeared in American Poetry JournalCalyxThe Missouri Review OnlineNew Madrid,  and The Southern Review.    You can learn more about her work at www.julielmoore.com.  "Backfire" first appeared in the Flint Hills Review issue 12.



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