I’d creep out of bed and watch my granddaddy when he thought he was alone,
on a stool in his big walk-in closet, in the dim triangle of a pull-chain bulb.
He’d clean his prized A.H Fox side by side, 12 gauge, Circassian walnut,
like Roosevelt’s. I’d watch his single-mindedness, his admiration of the barrel’s thrust,
jut of the beavertail, the trigger that clicked like a panther claw.
Imagining a deer, its thick-lashed big brown eye widening in the scope,
he’d take aim at his hanging trousers and shirts, letting
a calloused finger slide down the sharpening crescent. The smell of fear thickening
the air, a coppery musk settling in the lungs, sweet-weight, the smell of his boyhood.
Lowering the gun, a shiver leaving the vein in his neck pulsing, he’d decide to let it live.