That Year I Took My First Shot

by Jacob Griffin Hall


What does it matter, then, whether in the picture I hold 

a petal or a pistol? Either way the colors are distorted


with time, either way I am a child and the sky surrenders 

to the trees. Long before I asked who are my people 


there were photographs of people and there were people

without photographs expelled from the clearcut land. 


Hand in hand, we walked the rows and planted photos

of our people with petals or pistols below the yielding


sky. In the picture I’m talking to my sister. Long before 

I acquired language, language laid its claim to me


like a gunshot claims the quiet in a growth of evergreen

and I spent my summers tending white geraniums 


uphill from the firing patch. What does it matter what I hold, 

gun or flower, caught mid-sentence in a property of light. 


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