That time I found a gun

Beyond the dark mountains of Idaho
We climbed onto plains
The night sky filled with small lights
Then yellow glow on the horizon
And then finally our red Oldsmobile dropped
into the city valley
Of Great Falls

I was six and small and my father
Loomed like a Tom Hanks hero in the front seat
His buzzcut glowing from the light of the radio
Turned low so we could sing songs
We had driven all the way from Seattle
Sam beside me, shouting
She’ll be coming around the mountain
When she comes
When she comes

Grandpa and grandma and Aunt Gin
Greeted us at 3 a.m.
I still remember
The kitchen clock hands pointed in odd places
The window a black square
Smiles hugs
And they fed us lamb and fragrant bread
And we rejoiced in family cheer

The next day, in that kitchen, parents chatting
Aunt laughing
Grandpa bald and strong at the head
Of the table a man who had
Moved to Montana to cure TB
And won a new homestead
I climbed a white-and-black step ladder crooked
Between refrigerator and white counter
Exploring and on top I found
A silvery gun

What’s this? I wondered
Picking up the shiny object
Shiny and sharp
A toy perhaps, with a notch above a barrel
White pearl handle and metal
circle before it
And suddenly
All conversation stopped

The adults jumped up—
my mother moaning, someone shouting
Something something
And I dropped the pistol
Where I found it
On top of the fridge
Crying
Why were they mad
So mad mad mad at me
About a toy?

My grandfather knew guns and rifles
Steel tools that went with horses
Alan Kunz was in the last U.S. cavalry
Just before machine guns
Made riding horses in battle
A bad idea
Given the line of sight
Of thousands of bullets bullets
He told a story about training on a horse
Running at full gallop while he had to take off
His shirt, turn it inside out,
and put it back on
Holding the horse with only his legs
Rebuttoning the cloth completely
To prove his balance

This was a man who was careful
With guns
But I had found one
Grandpa missed
As a shiny toy

I’ve almost forgotten that day, because it faded
Everyone safe
But I wonder in America
As we fill our homes with ever more weapons
To protect ourselves
With children crawling around us
Exploring, playing, fighting
Is it at all that unexpected
Sometimes guns
Go the wrong way?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s