Frank Giampietro

Death by My Son

Dominic and I are playing
with a bow and arrow in the back yard.
It’s not a regular-sized bow,
but it’s big enough. The sticker says,
not for children under 12 years of age.
I have ignored signs like this before.
He is doing well, considering
his initial frustration,
fingering the arrow to stay on the guide
while he pulls the string back.
We shoot to hell a cardboard box
on which I have drawn a picture of a kitty
using his street chalk (nothing against cats,
it’s just that I can’t really draw anything else).
I show how you can shoot
way up into the air.
He is impressed, wants to do it.
But I grow bored
chasing his arrows,
find myself moving
firewood. He shoots one way up high,
says look, Dad. I’ve lost sight of it.
It’s going to land on his head.
I yell at him, Run!
But he’s not listening to me.
I run toward him. The arrow finds
my crown, my skull.
I am dying slowly,
dizzily walking toward the house,
slurring, Get Mommy.
He asks if I’m okay—I am, I manage.
So he gets another arrow, aims at my heart, shoots.

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