By Edward S. Gault
From the time he was five,
Brandon loved shooting guns.
His grandpa gave him his first set of pistols.
They came with caps and a sheriff’s badge.
He used to play shoot out with his friends.
His backyard was the O.K. Coral
He was the Sheriff, he had the badge
The pistols in theirs holsters
His grandpa gave him when he was five.
Later he would learn to hunt in the family’s fields
With a b.b. gun his grandpa had given him.
He shot coke cans off the fence most of the time.
His friends all joined him,
They were all too old for the O.K. Coral.
When he was fifteen- a young man now,
Too old for O.K. Coral, too good for Coke cans
His grandpa gave him his father’s shotgun
He could just about remember
Those dinners when he was five
-the Christmas he got the pistols.
There was honor coming down to him
Through his father’s shotgun.
He remembered those duck dinners,
-and how the grown ups would all talk
about a place called Saigon.
They talked about that a lot.
A little while later the duck dinners stopped.
He remembered the gun when he saw it.
-and his father cleaning it.
He like the sense of power
his Father’s gun gave him.
The power to decide what lived
This is what he did
on the weekends and before school;
and the long summers;
Thanksgiving and winterbreaks,
-when he brought home the ducks.
Then he prepared them
The same way he had seen his father do it
As he listened to the guy on the radio talk about
Saigon and the Viet Cong.
He knew his father would be going back.
Brandon attended University in Baltimore
Joined the R.O.T.C.
He married his sweetheart Marcy.
On the way to their honeymoon in North Conway
Marcy turned the dial
To some station playing the Grateful Dead.
She had heard enough about Baghdad.
She didn’t tell him when he went,
that she was going to have a child.
She wanted him to be able to do
what he knew he had to do.
He stored the gun carefully away,
until he came back.
When he did come back,
and the honors were completed,
A gun salute given,
And they presented her with the flag
-all folded in a triangle.
She put it on the mantle.
One day she would show it to their boy, Ricky.
He would never see the gun.