Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2012 v11n1
 print version

Fight or Flight

Your oldest is born to fight: your lullaby,
           your warning, your breast.

Yet, road blocked, he gives way, puts a gun
           in his mouth, runs from

capture to death. After, your husband loses
           his fight, too, retreats west

for bar-breathing and grief. You wash and press
           left-behind shirts, pass

them down to Freddie, Doc, and Lloyd—
           Lloyd, the only son

who will outlast the gangs, the Depression,
           you. He’ll marry, move,

stock shelves at the market, learn honest
           work. Then one night

his wife, threatened by something unseen,
           will put a hole in his head

at the table. If only she had surrendered
           to instinct as old as beasts:

turned her back, stretched her legs. Fled.  

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