My Father’s Gun Cabinet
November came and though it was Thanksgiving time
the house was busy with the start of duck hunting season.
Decoys were taken from the shelf and cleaned.
Camouflage shirts and pants were washed and dried.
Hunting boots were pulled from the back of closets and spider
webs wiped off. Duck calls pierced the air with loud quacks.
The gun cabinet stood against the living room wall, tall and
solid, oak stained medium brown, with a safe-tempered
glass door and fully locking handle. Leaning against
the felt-lined barrel rest were five guns, two 12-gauge shot guns
two double-barrel shotguns and a rifle, stock and trigger
facing outward, lined up like good little soldiers.
From the cabinet the guns were retrieved and the kitchen table
became a palette of oil cans, solvents, rags, paper towels
an Allen wrench, a cleaning rod and scattered gun parts.
Then my father and brothers were gone.
For three days the house was quiet until they returned
and the back-porch picnic table became a morgue of pin tails
canvasbacks, gadwalls, widgeons, buffleheads, redheads.
For days the house smelled of feathers and death.