Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2012 v11n1
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     I am, each day,
     typing out the God
     my typewriter believes in.
          —Anne Sexton

Is this then how I, atheist, passivist, drove
to the indoor gun range, swung open
into fear, gas-heater tinged; rifles and scopes
and bullet boxes—men I’d never hoped

would show me how to hold my body
forward, bend my knees, my fingers free
of the trigger because we never know, we
never know our own hands truly.

Each new part fallible, nameable—grip
and safety catch, firing pin. My friends
asking to hold 38s, sighting steady as if this
world without a god were also without spirit,

as if we were safe as houses, the bullet
casings glittering in unswept lanes, the targets
pulleyed out: bullseyes and torsos, the heart
we were supposed to—and I couldn’t—aim at,

though my friends pulled the trigger: ragged holes
dark in the outer circles, my ears muffled, full
of the noise, then nothing. Is it love that calls
us to the things of this world—the angels

of laundry rising with earthly wind, swaying
riddled on wires, or love the hunter has for living
things, which he can only express by aiming
his gun at them? And how do we stand wanting

to see inside this skin, and not knowing what
we hope to see—where the soul is, if it
is? The clack of keys that stick, the shots
marking paper we can’t repair, an eBay post

a man in England had to pull because souls,
spirits, and ghosts are not allowed for sale
though churches wrote to trade him the well-
spring of salvation, and as a struggling musician he’d will

the buyer royalties from any songs he’d write.
I’m very creative,he said, but creativity’s not sometimes
without its drawbacks. We’re called too to what defies
us to love it. The body’s target hanging high

in the dim lane and the gun in my hands heavier
than it looked even unloaded, reloaded, the paper
swaying in the still air before me, not the end or
beginning, but now: this bang, this whimper.    

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