Blank cartridges, useful in races, threats, theater
and reenactments—all heat lightning, no rain. Vacant silo
slotted into a barrel. As silly as near beer or decaf
I had no need of. I toppled bottles off the roof
of the defunct diesel Rabbit with a pearl-handled pistol
as a kid in a meadow. My good aim, even then. Now,
the onesie I stumble across on Etsy: iron-on assault rifle
and Proof my daddy doesn’t shoot blanks. Peach tree, small hawk
aloft, the creek with its song. Proof, proof enough of what
the world can hold. Those summers I mowed the meadow
towing the Bush Hog, backing into brambles like God
making a new topography, everything bending
to my will. The two senses of will in rapturous collapse:
what you want and what you’ll get. In the will is the pistol,
the Bush Hog and tractor. In the will is the meadow, empty
in its barrel of trees, arrowed through with dragonflies.
Peach tree, branches clotted with small green fruit.
Dip a dropped one in creek water and the fur turns silvery
like a mirror. Little miraculous surprise. Proof of something
looking one way, being another. Will, will. What carnage
did he acknowledge, who coined the term shooting
blanks? What far off creature drops from the money
shot when using, so to speak, live ammunition? That failure
of the will so clear when the bottle remains
whole and still. What animal in me is alive and free
to roam the elaborate habitat of my thoughts?
Rosalie Moffett is the author of Nervous System (Ecco) which was chosen by Monica Youn for the National Poetry Series Prize, and listed by the New York Times as a New and Notable book. She is also the author of June in Eden (OSU Press). She has been awarded the “Discovery”/Boston Review prize, a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in Creative Writing from Stanford University, and scholarships from the Tin House and Bread Loaf writing workshops. Her work has appeared in The American Poetry Review, New England Review, Narrative, Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. She is an assistant professor at the University of Southern Indiana.