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.




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