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.
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.