By Eli Rowell

Artwork “Pause” by Alli Rowe

“Do you remember what I told
you?” Yes, Mom. “I can show
you again if you’re unsure.” I lost
my sense of unsureness long ago,
the sound of the safety turning off,
the soft whisper of the hammer pulled
back into space, cleaved from its snug
home behind the revolver’s cylinder—
I learned that gun shots don’t echo.
The scene: in bed and alone and almost forced
into sleep, limbs slow and groggy, eyes
misted and wet with whatever half-thoughts
my mind conjures up to provide me with a
basic sense of false hope, then six shots
from four blocks away, my window is
open, my eyes are open, my front door—
“If any man touches you again…” I blanch
and the word again again again thrums in
my blood and my eyes burn, wet still
with the half-thoughts I push further down
my throat to the bottom of my esophagus, where
I force them to live so they can trigger my gag reflex
whenever they choose to. I know, Mom, I say,
and the wooden grip of the gun is warm in my palm.

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