The Frontier – Michael Brosnan
A boy finds his father’s pistol
and bullets in a dresser drawer:
pistol in a black sock,
bullets in a white sock.
The weight of both and how
the bullets rattle in the wool
speak of unfamiliar intent,
of the odd heft of grown-up lives.
He puts them back, gently closes the drawer.
But when he’s asked about them later,
he sees in his father’s eyes a stranger,
before the stranger morphs back
into his dad. The boy has read
that wolves sometimes kill wolves,
chimps kill chimps.
And when the male fig wasp
emerges from its fig of life, it aims
to murder every wasp rising after.
In the night, the boy wakes
to the sound of a shovel, then silence.
In the backyard, in the simple
silver light of a half moon,
his father stands alone, leaning
against the still shovel as if in prayer.
Michael Brosnan’s most recent poetry book is The Sovereignty of the Accidental. His poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Rattle, Confrontation, Borderlands, Prairie Schooner, Barrow Street, New Letters, and The Moth. He’s also the author of Against the Current, and serves as the editor for the website Teaching While White.