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.




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