My brother wants me to buy a gun

My brother wants me to buy a gun

My brother wants me to buy a gun 750 500 Sam Stebbins

says it makes him worry I don’t have one already,
tells me about where he keeps all the fire-
arms he has collected,
under the bed,
the glove box,
the doorway.

And our mother collects canes, keeps them
in a ceramic umbrella stand
next to the front door
like she’s preparing for the any-day
we might wake up
with a limp
and still need to head out into the world.

My brother worries because I live
in the city,
and he has only visited,
and the television tells him
he should be worried about places
with so much concrete and so many
people filled into that concrete.

My brother wants me to buy a gun
and I don’t think he considers all the things
that could kill me
that can’t be fought with fire:
poison from the stove filling up a room,
the chemistry we’ve both inherited,
the snap of any man,
of any man I love.
Just a few miles from my home

they found a girl, a woman,
sliced to pieces in the basement
and the comments said he looks like a killer
and I thought he looks like any man
I have ever known

and the comments said she should have
known, that street, smoking hookah, all that
trouble you can find

and I thought that street I have walked, have
stumbled down,
me, nineteen, smoke sweet and smooth pouring out
from my mouth
and nobody cut me apart for it
and how a gun wouldn’t have saved
either of us and
what good is a gun
against a man
you thought you could love.

Our mother collects pitchers, too, keeps them
piled high near the ceiling
like she’s preparing for the any-day we might need
one thousand glasses of lemonade poured at once.

They say they want to grow honey and wheat
say we can live off the land, this nuclear
family and
my brother wants to teach me to shoot
so I’m ready for Armageddon and
what good is a gun at the end of the world
anyway, except to
fire straight into the sky
because you’re angry, god,
I’m so angry
at the canes and
the men and
the pitchers and
how none of it
makes sense in
the end.

Header photograph © Joanna C. Valente.

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