In the living room, a standoff – a deadlock
between right and wrong side of the law.
A boy bellies forward, holster and chaps,
motions invisible troops; his silver gun drawn,
waving in the morning sun as if to cut a map through
ranges unknown: cushions from a worn sofa, sheer cliffs
that fold, collapse, take their toll; his brother content
in a sheriff’s badge removable for a change of roles.
How our memories tell us what we cannot know. How
in retrospect, days and months, our calendar plans
were a grace. How stars on straw costume cowboy hats
return like figures of forgotten clashes, traces of a
shimmering now: a new uniform, new boots, new hat,
new vows; occasion for the saints to be called by name.
St. Michael, patron of the airborne, stay with my boy
tonight, tomorrow, all the days. Know the two disparate
tones beneath a skein of geese – their flight so fixed,
resolved – when a mother prays, and when a mother calls.
Copyright © 2022 M. B. McLatchey. All rights reserved.
Published in Relief, Spring 2022.