Illustration by Pearson Scott Foresman
Today’s Poem of the Day from the Poetry Foundation has remained in my mind since it appeared in my inbox this morning.
Nick Flynn’s “My Mother Contemplating Her Gun” evokes some powerful and pertinent impressions of the role of firearms in our lives — guns as objects to be feared and to ward off fear, the marvel that such a small thing as a bullet can unmake a person.
And there’s something else here, too, that I can’t quite name but continues to resonate. Something to do with agency and mortality. I’ll have to mull it over.
My Mother Contemplating Her Gun
By Nick Flynn
One boyfriend said to keep the bulletslocked in a different room.Another urgedclean itor it could explode. Larrythought I should keep it loadedunder my bed,you never know.I bought itwhen I didn’t feel safe. The barrelis oily,reflective, the steelpure, pulled from a holein West Virginia. Itcould have been cast into anything, nailsalong the carpenter’s lip, the ladderto balance the train. Look at this, onebullet,how almost nothing it is—saltpeter sulphur lead Hellburns sulphur, a smell like this.safety & hammer, barrel & gripI don’t know what I believe.I remember the woods behind my father’s househorses beside the quarrystolen cars lost in the deepest wells,the water belowan ink waiting to fill me.Outside a towel hangs from a cold linea sheet of iron in the skyroses painted on it, blue roses.Tomorrow it will still be there.
“My Mother Contemplating Her Gun” © 2000 Nick Flynn. Reprinted from Some Ether with the permission of Graywolf Press, St Paul, Minnesota. Source: Some Ether (Graywolf Press, 2000). via Poetry Foundation