At fourteen, you see how the world is:
the sky full of holes, your stepmother
a wounded sparrow, prompting
your father to hide all the guns.
You’re the trigger, he whispers,
slips you a pistol when you graduate college.
At twenty-five, you receive an invitation
to their hidden compound somewhere in the country,
over the rainbow where Christ awaits his return
with a shotgun across his knees.
Your favorite student buys a rifle
two weeks before graduation,
tries to swallow the world with a single bullet.
That summer your neighbor’s son
bikes around town, bat strapped to the side,
ready for baseballs,
car windows, skulls that crack like fine china.
You wait for your dogs to come inside
as officers slowly approach his house through your yard.
Priests walking to the altar of God, semiautomatics drawn.
You look up at the sky and wonder how long
to scar over every hole.
Nancy Hightower has been published in Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Entropy, Sundog Lit, Word Riot, storySouth, and Gargoyle, and HuffPost. From 2014-2016, she reviewed science fiction and fantasy for The Washington Post. She is the author of The Acolyte (poetry, Port Yonder Press, 2015), and is currently working on a book about digital storytelling with Paul D. Miller for Duke University Press, as well as a memoir about growing up in the evangelical South.