Elegy Reserved for Future Use
My brother places his rifle in my hands
after clearing the chamber. Its oak stock
still warm with his sweat. Everything
is the color of gunmetal: fields
layered with snowfall at dusk,
the distant milk jugs, dusk itself.
He folds his arms around my body,
molds my finger to the trigger. I miss
the easier silences that once rested
between us. Our father is not yet dead,
but it doesn’t matter. We both know
the shape grief takes: a loaded gun
held flush against the shoulder.
One empty casing after another
spinning through the frostbitten air.
Chris Hayes, a Tennessee native, is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the creative writing program at Florida State University. His poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Beloit Poetry Journal, Barnwood International, Fourth River, and Smartish Pace. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife and daughter. (email@example.com)