My Mother Contemplating Her Gun

One boyfriend said to keep the bullets

locked in a different room.
                                    Another urged
            clean it
or it could explode. Larry

thought I should keep it loaded
under my bed,
                     you never know.

            I bought it
when I didn’t feel safe. The barrel
                         is oily,

             reflective, the steel

pure, pulled from a hole
                      in West Virginia. It

could have been cast into anything, nails
along the carpenter’s lip, the ladder

to balance the train. Look at this, one

                        how almost nothing it is

             saltpeter   sulphur   lead   Hell

burns sulphur, a smell like this.
                        safety & hammer, barrel & grip

             I don’t know what I believe.

I remember the woods behind my father’s house
          horses beside the quarry

stolen cars lost in the deepest wells,
the water below
            an ink waiting to fill me.

                      Outside a towel hangs from a cold line
            a sheet of iron in the sky

            roses 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)
More Poems by Nick Flynn