Frank Giampietro

Begin Anywhere

I could begin with my father’s strong right arm
heaving his shotgun into the lake.
This is usually where I begin. Or I could begin
with my half-sister standing at the top of the hill
looking down at my father’s back as he hurls the gun
into the lake—not crying, just looking out at the lake
and the ducks on the other side eating the crumbs
Mrs. Dyer throws to them. Yes, looking
as a few of them—not too many—fly off
at the sound of the gun stock’s heavy splash.
Or I could begin after the splash, with the ducks
flying back to the bread. Or, ten minutes earlier,
with my father not consoling, but wanting to console
my half-sister as she stands there, a shadow’s length
from the doorway watching him hold
what’s left of his first wife. Of course I could begin
with his wife shooting herself
in my half sister’s abandoned playhouse. I could
begin with my father carefully unlinking the gun
from her toe, or even earlier in the day,
with my sister having come home from school
calling for her mother in the backyard,
peeking into her old playhouse
which she hadn’t been playing in.
I could begin with her coming home
and not finding her mother,
the house dark and nothing cooking,
no light in the kitchen, no whir of the stove fan.
Or I could begin later, with my father parking
his great, golden Lincoln
having had an alright day, not a great day—
the high of having made the morning sale
worn off by the afternoon’s empty store parking lot.
I begin with this because to begin with the fact
that my father has never spoken of this thing
living in me since I was the age of my half-sister,
or to begin with the lake which I grew up on,
ice skated on—which the state drained when I was three
and did not find a gun,
is to begin with the idea that if no one found the gun,
then there is no way to begin.
No one officially looked for the gun, of course,
but surely Mrs. Dyer must have worried
over the story of the gun’s disappearance,
seeking some explanation for it all.

Frank Giampietro
“Begin Anywhere” is from Begin Anywhere (Alice James Books, 2008).