The Last of the Shotgun
She was a northern dog bred to rescue people
from the cold North Atlantic,
not fit for the hot humid Florida coastal inland
with deep black fur to boot.
He had waited years, a whole marriage and two children,
to become a dog person again, but the move south
is what killed her, not him or his grandfather’s shotgun,
or at least that’s what he told himself before he did it.
When he came back, it was not the war that nearly killed him
but a mosquito – dengue fever – the war just hollowed him out
and filled him back up again with guilt and self-loathing,
neither of which could be drunk away.
When his father gave him his grandfather’s shotgun
he gladly accepted; the woods and the sport of it all
would be the same as it always had been,
but he had hunted during the war
and found he didn’t have the heart
to take a life again. Not yet anyway.
It would take:
a persistent ground hog,
a vegetable garden,
a startled first wife.
He aimed at the furry terror from a second floor window
taking shot after shot and missing,
the sniper and sharpshooter actually missing!
And then, finally, the right shot and the right time,
the groundhog a mass of fur and flesh, meat really, when I saw it.
Point taken: the garden was sacred, the ground hog was not.
The ground hog did not require heart, but the suffering dog did,
so he found the heart to use the gun a final time.
Afterwards, he launched the gun into the middle of the pond,
swearing for the last time that he’d never fire it again.