When My Aunt Asks If I Got a Pistol Permit Yet by Wendy DeGroat

Florida authorities distributed over 20,000 concealed weapon and firearm license applications in May. For the month of June, they filled 36,000 requests. This is a national trend after mass shootings.
Orlando Sentinel, 15 July 2016

After Orlando, it’s what all the gay guys
on our block are doing, she says.
Her hands plunge into bread dough
stretched on a stainless steel table.

Pistols at dawn. +++++ Showdown.
Is that what I want between me and whoever
wants us dead? Something shifts in my gut
and it isn’t hunger. She lets the dough rest.

I’ve considered a gun, yes. This I don’t say aloud,
impulse to arm coupled with an urge to squirrel away
in a remote cabin with ammo, matches, MRE’s.
Another kind of closet. She pours coffee.

On the radio I heard a frigatebird can glide
for weeks at a time, soar from where it is
to where it wants to go with barely a wingbeat
by flying into clouds and hitching a ride.

When I googled class times at the shooting range
just the idea of a gun took the edge off my fear,
the way pills can make you forget you’re hungry.
Bacon in your omelet? she offers. I nod.

But even if I hit the target each time, hate
will still stare red-eyed from all the places
we’ve stashed it for centuries, its shelf life longer
than any bullet or MRE. No, I tell her, no permit.

When a plane enters clouds, I brace for turbulence.
I can’t glide to the shore I seek. Yet this storm
calls me out. I have bread, a kitchen table, paper,
the internet. Everywhere are neighbors I haven’t met.

I want to listen, speak, reach out. Love as my
ammunition—throat, pen, and cursor the barrels.
Still, I get her neighbors’ decision. I’m afraid too.
We refill our coffee, pass the salt, keep talking.



Wendy DeGroat’s poetry has appeared in U.S. and U.K. publications, including Common-place, Raleigh Review, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, About Place, Mslexia, and TRIVIA: Voices of Feminism. She’s a librarian in Richmond, Virginia, and curates http://www.poetryriver.org/ She and her wife Annette were in Provincetown when they learned about the tragedy at Pulse.