this is not a play area
"It's not a toy," I suspect his mother said when she first caught her son pointing
her lipstick in the air as she applied mascara before a dinner party.
"It's not a toy," she repeated later, as the lipstick turned into a nail file, a rolling pin,
a butter knife, a beer bottle. Her son heard only the words "not" and "toy." She thought
it better to keep her distress to herself, to stay silent about the violence of gestures,
the way she felt, as he leveled each mock barrel toward any living or static thing,
as if she were taking a bullet in her own chest. The phrase "he's just a boy"
kept trailing, like a dustpan, after each new episode, not quite cleaning up the mess,
and now, years later, his armory stockpiled and spilling past the yard, his mother's heart
long-bled, he is razing whole neighborhoods house by house, shooting whatever he sees.