Meditation at Fifty Yards, Moving Target

By Rita Dove b. 1952 Rita Dove
Safety First.

Never point your weapon, keep your finger   
off the trigger. Assume a loaded barrel,
even when it isn’t, especially when you know it isn’t.   
Glocks are lightweight but sensitive;
the Keltec has a long pull and a kick.
Rifles have penetrating power, viz.:
if the projectile doesn’t lodge in its mark,
it will travel some distance
until it finds shelter; it will certainly
pierce your ordinary drywall partition.
You could wound the burglar and kill your child   
sleeping in the next room, all with one shot.


Open Air.

Fear, of course. Then the sudden   
pleasure of heft—as if the hand   
had always yearned for this solemn   
fit, this gravitas, and now had found   
its true repose.

Don’t pull the trigger, squeeze it—
squeeze between heartbeats.   
Look down the sights. Don’t   
hold your breath. Don’t hold   
anything, just stop breathing.
Level the scene with your eyes. Listen.
Soft, now: squeeze.


Gender Politics.

Guys like noise: rapid fire,
thunk-and-slide of a blunt-nose silver Mossberg,
or double-handed Colts, slugging it out from the hips.   
Rambo or cowboy, they’ll whoop it up.

Women are fewer, more elegant.
They prefer precision:
tin cans swing-dancing in the trees,
the paper bull’s-eye’s tidy rupture at fifty yards.

            (Question: If you were being pursued,
                how would you prefer to go down—
                   ripped through a blanket of fire
                or plucked by one incandescent   
            fingertip?)


The Bullet.

dark dark no wind no heaven
i am not anything   not borne on air   i bear   
myself   i can slice the air   no wind
can hold me   let me   let me
go   i can see   yes
o aperture o light   let me   off
go off   straight is my verb   straight   
my glory road   yes   now i can   feel
it the light i am flame   velocity o
beautiful body i am coming i am yours   
before you know it
i am home

Rita Dove, "Meditation at Fifty Yards, Moving Target" from American Smooth. Copyright © 2004 by Rita Dove. Used by permission of the author and W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. This selection may not be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Source: American Smooth (2004)

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Poet Rita Dove b. 1952

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Sports & Outdoor Activities, Gender & Sexuality, Activities, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Mixed

 Rita  Dove

Biography

Rita Dove was born in Akron, Ohio in 1952, the daughter of one of the first black chemists in the tire industry. Dove was encouraged to read widely by her parents, and excelled in school. She was named a Presidential Scholar, one of the top one hundred high-school graduates in the country and attended Miami University in Ohio as a National Merit Scholar. After graduating, Dove received a Fulbright to study at the University of . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Sports & Outdoor Activities, Gender & Sexuality, Activities, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Mixed

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