They took the guns.
In one night the children cleaned out
Our closets, our drawers, our lock boxes.
Scoured the police stations and the virtual stores,
Fled like animals, absconding with the action.
None too young or too small
To carry the guns
On their backs, over their heads
Across their forearms, stuffed into waistbands,
Zipped into backpacks, some with dangling charms.
They had badgered us until exhausted,
They turned into animals.
As one, the herd dropped the guns,
Clattering, crisscrossed into a sandy altar.
Littering our shore with dead-shiny obsidian.
Shot hot from a rifle this herd joins
The dragonflies, the turtles, the wildebeests,
The zooplankton swarms.
Heedless of the thousands and thousands of miles ahead
Theirs a desperate gamble.
The children forfeited their human form to start over.
They wait for us, these cagey animals
To surrender, to sacrifice our breath,
To sink forgotten into this riddled hill,
This ash-heap of cruel and casual penalty.
Buffy Shutt lives and works in Los Angeles. She spent most of her adult life marketing movies. She writes poetry and short stories. She has published one novel and co-authored a book of non-fiction with her college roommate and still best friend. A two time 2017 Pushcart nominee, her recent work has appeared in Red Fez, SplitLip, Bird’s Thumb and the Magnolia Review which gave her their Ink Award.
Original photograph by Fibonacci Blue.