Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Shooting Range

Arrivals and departures marked by a two gun salute in
an adjoining berm, loud POPs and a deeper BANG, the
plink of a bullet stopped by metal. In my life, a similar
two gun salute marked my arrival in the not-gone West
as I shot up dead appliances rusting on a friend’s ranch.
Today it’s a .22 or .45, magazines fully loaded, snapped
into place in the grip, safety first and on until I step up
to a line scuffed in mud. There’s a pleasure in handling
these well-made objects, mixed with dread knowledge:
that what I sight along, what’s in my hands, is meant to
rip apart flesh, bring death down upon a bird, a deer, a
person. There is pleasure in the kick, in the shock to the
forearms and hands, the memory of a forge in its warm
barrel—but gunmetal’s iron scent is too close to blood
for me to want it close at hand, as others here may do.

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